While people globally are remaining indoors to curb the spread of the coronavirus, it’s still business as usual for animals, whether they’re emerging from hibernation in the Northern Hemisphere or experiencing cooler months during the Southern Hemisphere’s autumn.
Thanks to an abundance of webcams and livestreams at wildlife reserves, research centers, aquariums, and zoos, it’s possible to see all kinds of animals in action without leaving your home. Here are some wildlife webcams that provide a much-needed window to the natural world.
Virtual zoo and aquarium tours
Monterey Bay Aquarium
California’s Monterey Bay Aquarium features a number of live webcams that show everything from adorable sea otters swimming and frolicking to leopard sharks drifting through their kelp forest habitats. On the livestreams, which are available on the aquarium’s website, viewers can peek into the aquarium’s aviary for some virtual bird-watching, observe translucent jellyfish pulsating and changing colors underwater, or even check for turtles and other sea creatures living off Monterey’s coast using the 24/7 Open Sea Cam.
Georgia Aquarium and Zoo Atlanta
Atlanta’s Georgia Aquarium hosts a regular webcam offering “Live Views” of its resident beluga whales, southern sea otters, piranhas, African penguins, and more. (Yes, this is the same aquarium that has been welcoming foster puppies and kittens from the Atlanta Humane Society on “field trips” to its empty exhibits closed due to coronavirus.) Elsewhere in the city, Zoo Atlanta offers its own “Panda Cam” livestream featuring the giant pandas twins, Ya Lun and Xi Lun.
San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo offers more than 10 live webcams that give viewers a glimpse at orangutans and simians, tigers, koalas, giraffes, and other species. You can watch over 30 butterfly species, including zebra longwings, giant swallowtails, and blue morphos, flutter around a climate-controlled “Hidden Jungle” greenhouse at the California zoo, or observe African penguin colonies waddle around their cobblestoned beach habitat, which mimics Boulders Beach in South Africa.
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Every weekday at 3 p.m. (EST), the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden hosts a “Home Safari” on its Facebook Live Feed featuring a different animal as the star, such as one of its resident Komodo dragons, manatees, aardvarks, or even Fiona the Hippo, who became famous for being the smallest ever hippo to survive after she was born six weeks premature at the zoo in 2017. (Each Facebook Live video is posted on the Cincinnati Zoo’s YouTube after the livestream airs.)
As its name suggests, the Cincinnati institution is also home to a massive botanical garden. On April 11 at 3 p.m. (EST), the Home Safari livestream will offer a virtual tour around the gardens, which each spring are home to more than 100,000 tulips, so self-isolated audiences can see the flowers in peak bloom.
National park and wildlife sanctuary webcams
Koalas in Australia
Brisbane-based Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary has eight different “Koala Cams” across its nearly 50-acre property, which is home to about 130 of the appealing Australian animals. Among the livestreams available on the sanctuary’s website are a Jumping Koala Joeys cam, featuring young koalas who’ve recently been weaned off their mothers, as well as the Lone Pine Koala Train cam, which showcases a spot in the sanctuary dubbed the “koala cuddle train” where the resident koalas often snuggle together.
Atlantic puffins in Maine
On Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge, located about 21 miles off of Maine’s coast, Atlantic puffins typically nest and breed during spring and summer. This live puffin cam, established by the National Audubon Society in April 2013, gives an intimate glimpse inside a puffin burrow (which is typically between three to seven feet deep) where Atlantic puffins return year after year, often to reunite with the same mate.
Gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Located near the Tayna Nature Reserve in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center (GRACE) cares for orphaned gorillas with the goal of reintroducing them back into the wild. A live webcam in a corridor that connects the gorillas’ night quarters with the surrounding nature reserve shows the rescued gorillas grazing on vegetation, making nests for their slumber, and often taking long naps.
Bald eagles in California
This bald eagle nest webcam overlooks—you guessed it—the nest of a family of bald eagles, which are only found in North America’s wilderness. The livestream, established by the National Park Service, transports viewers to the nest on Santa Cruz Island, which is the largest island in Channel Islands National Park, located about 22 miles off the coast of southern California.
Elephants in South Africa
Situated between KwaZulu-Natal province and Mozambique in the remote sand forests and wetlands of northern Tongaland, Tembe Elephant Park was established in 1983 to protect the last remaining herd of free-range elephants in South Africa. The wildlife and nature reserve features a 24/7 livestream camera placed near one of its waterholes where the “Big Five”—elephants, lions, leopards, rhinoceros, and buffalo—often gather alongside other animals, including tiny Suni antelope and more than 340 bird species.
Similarly, luxury travel company andBeyond and wildlife broadcaster WildEarth have teamed up to lead daily livestream safaris from South Africa’s andBeyond Ngala Private Game Reserve, which borders Kruger National Park, and the Djuma Private Game Reserve. Throughout April, viewers can watch the Live Safaris, which will last around three hours each, for free on on WildEarth’s YouTube.
Giant pandas in China
More than 30 giant pandas live at the Shenshuping Gengda Panda Center in the Wolong Valley Nature Reserve, which makes up about 60 percent of the world’s total panda population. At the giant panda center, which focuses on scientific research, captive breeding, and reintroduction into the wild, an ongoing livestream shows the endangered animals eating, playing, and climbing wood structures in their bamboo-filled panda yard in China’s Sichuan province.
Brown bears in Alaska
The brown bears of Alaska’s Katmai National Park typically emerge from hibernation during spring before they descend on the Brooks River to feed on sockeye salmon migrating upstream. You won’t usually see brown bears at Brooks Falls until late June and July, but you can virtually watch them year-round through this brown bear webcam established by the Katmai National Park and Preserve.