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WATCH: Missouri Penguins Enjoy 'Morning Of Fine Art' At Local Museum

Kansas City Zoo executive director Randy Wisthoff says their Humboldt penguins have missed their regular interactions with zoo visitors, so a field trip was in order.
Gabe Hopkins
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The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
Kansas City Zoo executive director Randy Wisthoff says their Humboldt penguins have missed their regular interactions with zoo visitors, so a field trip was in order.

What a time to be a penguin.

First, a group of the flightless birds were recently allowed to roam the halls of Chicago's Shedd Aquarium — a through-the-looking-glass moment if there ever was one.

Now, penguins visited a museum for a "morning of fine art and culture."

The outing was arranged by The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo., and the Kansas City Zoo. Both institutions are closed to the public because the pandemic.

"Quarantine has caused everyone to go a little stir-crazy, even the residents of the Kansas City Zoo. So several of the penguins decided to go on a field trip to the Nelson-Atkins, which is still closed, to get a little culture," said a caption accompanying the video.

The zoo's executive director, Randy Wisthoff, said in the video that their Humboldt penguins have missed their regular interactions with zoo visitors.

"We're always looking for ways to enrich their lives and stimulate their days and during this shutdown period, our animals really miss visitors coming up to see them," Wisthoff said.

The zoo also has a camera to watch the penguins when at home and not being cultural connoisseurs.

This type of penguin is native to Peru and Chile, and the museum's director, Julián Zugazagoitia, mused that the penguins seemed to "really appreciate" when he spoke Spanish.

And if you're wondering what sort of art penguins might like, this outing provides some (very) modest anecdotal evidence that they may be drawn to Italian Baroque techniques. "They seemed, definitely, to react much better to Caravaggio than to Monet," Zugazagoitia quipped.

Guess the Renaissance master is really for the birds, especially the flightless ones.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jason Slotkin