In times like these (global pandemics), I don’t know about you but I have been obtaining much of the serotonin in my body solely from online videos of animals doing things. And what’s better than regular videos of animals doing things? Why, animals doing things in real time. With aquariums, museums, and zoos around the world closing their doors to visitors due to the novel coronavirus, many of them have made some exhibits available online as live-streams for all of us to watch from the comfort (or discomfort) of our own homes.
So, step outside (not really) and live amongst the animals (not really) for a moment (far too late into the night).
Top Picks for You
Penguins have been walking all over the place the last couple weeks, and multiple establishments are live-streaming their resident penguins. The Georgia Aquarium has an African penguin-cam, as does the San Diego Zoo, if you’d like to switch to a different set of very similar-looking penguins. But that’s not all: the Mystic Aquarium also has penguin live-streams set up for you to watch these little suited creatures waddle about. Oh, and so does the Melbourne Zoo, where you can keep up on the day to day activities of. Watching these penguins inside of their habitats is a treat, and you never know what you’re going to get—sometimes, they are waddling about and sometimes they are standing completely still, for extremely long periods of time, which leads you to be like, “Is that penguin sleeping while standing up?” And then after several minutes, it moves once more, and you go, “Ah, yes, okay. It’s awake.”
Baby Snow Leopards
If it’s baby snow leopards you’d like to stalk during your social isolation time, the Melbourne Zoo also has you covered in this instance. There’s a camera on their little nesting area, as well as their outdoor playing area–so you can check out what they are up to at all times of the day.
I’m gonna be honest with you here about this particular camera, a lot of the time, the snow leopards are nowhere to be found. I’ve spent many, many minutes peering into the outdoor playing area, trying to find a baby snow leopard—and I have, so far, failed every time. I hold out hope, though. I always hold out hope.
There are several places for you to see sea otters. At the Georgia Aquarium, watch an otter swim by or, perhaps, play in a big yellow sphere. At the Monterey Bay Aquarium, watch otters swim about. The great news about these cameras is that even if the otters are busy, you are sure to find a seagull hanging out by itself, in their place. I watched a seagull stand on a rock in the otter habitat for seven minutes the other day, and it was very peaceful—and then it quickly turned into an action movie, when an otter swam back into view and the seagull jumped and went to see what the otter was doing. And you’ll never believe what happened next—the otter popped out of the water, startling the seagull, who hopped away! He’ll be back, though. I know it.
Since closing to the public due to the spread of COVID-19, the Georgia Aquarium has gone digital with many of its animal exhibits, including its camera featuring some beluga whales swimming around. Belugas, as a species, had a very busy 2019, with one of them becoming a Russian spy and all, and although no one’s sure what Hvladimir the Spy Whale is up to currently, at least we can keep up to date on what these aquarium belugas are doing.
The Georgia Aquarium lets you peep some California sea lions swimming about, and this particular camera is unique because it looks as if the sea lions are swimming in a circular pool that might exist inside of a volcano—really gives this camera a story, you know? The sea lion just keeps swimming in circles, most likely doing some thinking, which is understandable—he’s probably trying to figure out how to get out of the volcano. Meanwhile, Explore.org brings you live shots of gray seal pups (when they are not out at sea) in Seal Island, Maine—and while they’ve been out at sea quite a bit lately, the stream shows old videos of seal pups, which is good enough for me.
If you’re bored with the land and want to dive under the sea for a little bit, there are several underwater creature live-streams you might like to take a little look at. From jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium to an Indo-Pacific Barrier Reef webcam of tropical fish and coral at the Georgia Aquarium, you can spend hours underwater through these live streams. The Georgia Aquarium also has a piranha webcam, where a bunch of piranhas just kind of float around, seemingly staring directly at you, which is extremely creepy. Also, if you just want to look at some ocean, Monterey Bay Aquarium has an “open sea cam,” from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST, where you’ll see rogue stingrays and fish (and possibly sharks) roam around all day.
Baboons, Gorillas, and Monkeys
The Houston Zoo has a live stream of its gorilla habitat from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. CST each day, where the gorillas share a home with a small family of red river hogs. The San Diego broadcasts their Africa Rocks habitat, which is home to a Hamadryas baboon troop and a pack of Gelada monkeys, as well as the Nubian ibex, a wild goat species. The San Diego Zoo also has an ape cam where you can watch orangutans and siamangs hang out on some poles and branches. Go bananas!
Condors and Falcons
The live stream at the California Condor Breeding Facility at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park lets you look into the socialization habitat where little condors are taught how to interact with each other and, well, BE condors, generally. National Aviary has a Peregrine Falcon Nest-cam, broadcasting live daily from the south side of the Cathedral of Learning on the main campus of the University of Pittsburgh. UC Berkeley also has several falcon cameras set up all in one place, for your viewing pleasure.
Ladies and gentlemen, broadcasting live via the National Arboretum Bald Eagle Nest Cam in Washington, DC, may I proudly present to you: Mr. President and The First Lady–who are eagles. They are expecting this eagle couple to lay eggs and have some little eaglets at some point, but, alas, it has not happened yet. In addition to these regal eagles (sorry), there is also the Smoky Mountain Bald Eagle Nest Cam, featuring Lady Independence and Sir Hatcher II. But that’s not all, folks, no–not even close. The American Eagle Foundation has an ongoing live stream of the Dollywood Bald Eagle Nest in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, where Grant and Glenda (an eagle couple) are brooding two eggs, laid in March. We at Fodor’s (and I AM only talking about myself) are eagerly awaiting the birth of these two bird children.
With Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s Panda Cams, you can tune in to see Tian Tian and Mei Xiang, two giant pandas, walk around, sit in trees, and thrash around long branches of bamboo as they eat them. And if that’s not enough panda for you, the Wolong Grove live cam at the Shenshuping Gengda Panda Center in China’s Wolong Valley Nature Reserve ALSO has a panda cam (11 panda cams, actually), where you can watch families of pandas (including BABIES) play with toys as well as lounge around on trampolines, etc. Of all of the animal cams, I’ll let you in on a secret: This one might be the cutest.
The San Diego Zoo brings you an elephant cam, where you can watch these large sweethearts walk around their habitat. Right underneath the live stream, they also give you a detailed character profile of each elephant featured–from Swazi (the “faithful leader”) to Umngani (the “diva”), the gang is truly all here–and they’ve got personalities AND storylines. Want even more elephants? Well, The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee also has an elephant cam, as does Smithsonian’s National Zoo.
The San Diego Zoo offers a live stream of their tiger habitat, as does the Tiger Lake cam at the Bat Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida. And, hey, when it’s nighttime at these habitats, head on over to the live tiger cam at the Edinburgh Zoo, which has a constant live stream of their tigers as well. That’s primo tiger content streaming 24/7.
Wild animals are wonderful, but sometimes you just want to look at a dog–and the Senior Dog Gathering Room cam in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, offers just that. The senior dogs of Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary lounge around together, and looking at them for even a few minutes is bound to lift your spirits. And when you’re done looking at these good boys, head on over to the Puppy Playroom at Warrior Canine Connection, which streams live from Brookeville, Maryland, to watch some puppies flop around (on each other, on volunteers, and in general).
This is a special camera set up by an anonymous California homeowner to showcase Bella, a hummingbird, who has been returning to this little spot since 2005. There are two cameras set up–one on Bella’s feeding area and one on Bella’s little nest. Three cheers for Bella.
The San Diego Zoo has a koala cam set up, where you can watch koalas…well, mostly sleep, but sometimes they are awake, and regardless of their status–they are still very cute. The Edinburgh Zoo also has a koala cam set up so that you can watch Tanami the koala eat and (again, mostly) sleep. Outdoing absolutely everyone in the koala live stream world, Australia’s Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary has set up 11 different cameras for their koala habitats, and they stream 24/7.