The coronavirus pandemic has caused countless establishments to close their doors -- including the Monterey Bay Aquarium. And while many zoos, aquariums and museums offer live webcam streams and virtual tours, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is leveraging Nintendo’s latest craze to continue educating the public. Aquarium staff and guest Emily Graslie -- who is the chief curiosity correspondent at the Chicago Field Museum -- are giving tours of Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ own virtual museum. During the Twitch streams, the experts provide scientific insights into the fossils and fauna found in the game's desert island.
Aquarium social media specialist Emily Simpson and content creator Patrick Webster told Polygon, “[Viewers will] learn about everything from dinosaurs and ancient fishes, to marine reptiles and extinct cephalopods, and the museum displays them thematically based on their evolution. It also organizes the fishes and insects of the game based on their ecology, both in the exhibit hall and in your island’s habitats.” Yesterday’s stream lasted two hours, with the three hosts delving into details about comb jellies (and their anal pores), dinosaur fossils and even barreleye fish. “The fact that the developers included a barreleye...shows you that they are true connoisseurs of the critters you’ll find in the deep sea,” said Webster during the stream.
Animal Crossing appeals to both children and adults, so using the popular game as a medium for education during the coronavirus pandemic is a smart move on the aquarium’s part. Hopefully these Twitch streams will help keep the public interested in wildlife while they’re cooped up at home.