Even when you can’t make it to your favorite zoo, aquarium, or wildlife park, life for the animals that inhabit them goes on. Luckily, a number of famous animal sanctuaries throughout the West and beyond have set up livestreams, so you can check in and watch sea otters hold hands, penguins build nests, and cheetah cubs play.
Aquarium of the Pacific’s Tropical Reef Cam
Over 1,000 unique sea creatures fill the Tropical Reef Habitat at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California. The exhibit is designed to represent the Blue Corner, a famous reef and dive site in Palau, a small island country located in the north-west corner of the Pacific. Watch closely for a ray or a zebra shark to sweep through the frame, or simply try to spot Nemo and friends.
Bonus: The Aquarium of the Pacific’s Magellanic penguins are in the middle of breeding season and have built nests to lay their eggs. Its penguin nest box livestream is a chance to see mother penguins nesting and, if you’re lucky, raising their newborn chicks.
California Academy of Sciences’ Farallon Islands
Escape to a remote island 30 miles off the coast of San Francisco. Watch the waves crash into the rocky shores as you search for sea lions and seabirds on the newly restored Farallon Islands livestream. Each viewer who joins the queue gets the opportunity to control the livestream’s camera in real time for two minutes.
California Academy of Sciences’ Penguin Cam
Follow along with the Cal Academy’s African penguin colony via three webcams, and read about some common behaviors you’ll see, such as preening and bowing. Sharp eyes can spot the colored wing bands that help tell everyone apart (for the curious, couples wear matching bands on opposite arms). Daily biologist-led feedings happen at 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary’s Koala Cam
The Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane, Australia, is the largest and oldest koala sanctuary in the world. Its expansive Koala Forest exhibit is home to many female koalas, and is the focus of a number of the sanctuary's livestreams. These adorable critters are vulnerable, so take some time to learn about what the sanctuary is doing to preserve this iconic species.
Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Cam
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is the place to go for a snapshot of the unique aquatic ecosystems that make up the California coast, from kelp forests to the open sea. Nothing is more emblematic of the rocky Pacific coast than the sea otter. Watch them twirl and dance in their watery home via the aquarium’s livestream sea otter cam. Narrated feedings happen every weekday at 1:30 p.m.
Bonus: See more action—this time set to calming music—with the aquarium’s Shark Cam. Leopard sharks, pacific angel sharks, and more glide by in the Monterey Bay Habitats Exhibit.
Oakland Zoo’s Grizzly Bear Cam
The Oakland Zoo is home to two sets of brothers: Rubicon and Kenai, and Tulare and Truckee. These four rascals can be viewed via a livestream that the zoo has set up centered on their favorite place—the pool! They’re best viewed in the warmer months; in the winter they go into “torpor,” a period of lower activity.
Bonus: If you can’t get enough bear action, the Oakland Zoo has a black bear cam as well, and you can toggle between the grassy habitat and the pool to catch the action. Cambria and her two cubs, Kern and Tejon, were brought to the zoo in 2017.
San Diego Zoo’s Elephant Cam
The San Diego Zoo’s elephant herd currently includes nine members, some of which hail from the zoo’s original herd, brought over from South Africa’s Kruger National Park (through Swaziland) in 2003. Learn about each herd member, including two calves that turn two at the end of the summer, as you watch them feed and roam.
Smithsonian National Zoo’s Panda Cam
The Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C. is home to two giant pandas, Tian Tian and Mei Xiang. Two cameras mean you never have to miss a moment of the action. In late March 2020, Mei Xiang was artificially inseminated, a process which, if successful, will be a momentous step in the conservation of this vulnerable species.
Smithsonian National Zoo’s Cheetah Cub Cam
One of the Smithsonian’s cheetahs, Echo, gave birth to four cubs on April 8, 2020. The cheetah cub cam is the best way to follow the development of the newborns—if they aren’t in sight of the camera, don’t fret! Echo has been moving the cubs from den to den, just like she would in the wild.
Vancouver Aquarium’s Jelly Cam
Is there anything more soothing than watching a jellyfish float and flutter through the open ocean? The Vancouver Aquarium’s Jelly Cam takes you inside the vibrant Pacific sea nettle tank. The nettles’ burnt-orange bodies and flowery tentacles set against a backdrop of brilliant blue is a sight to behold.