I am always looking out for new experiences, wherever I may find myself.
Published April 17th 2020
A list of the best zoo live streams
It's not always possible to enjoy a physical visit to the zoo, whether that's because you don't have enough time, enough money or because it's 2020 and the world is in lockdown. Fortunately, zoos are starting to set up ways for the public to enjoy their animals from home. Namely, they're setting up live streams, and this article will name some of the best.
Zoos Victoria (Australia) Zoos Victoria currently has seven live cams going 24/7, allowing you to view animals from both Melbourne Zoo and Werribee Open Range Zoo. Sometimes, animals from Healesville Sanctuary make a one-off appearance too (when that happens, the streams remain on the zoo's website and can be watched at any time).
Animals you can enjoy from this zoo include penguins, zebras, lions, and giraffes. The stars are definitely the snow leopards cubs though. Born on Australia Day, they're hard to catch, but adorable when you manage it. You can find all of these streams here.
There are two cameras on the snow leopards. One indoors and one outdoors. Here, you can see two of the cubs on the indoor cam, in their nest box.
At the moment, Zoos Victoria is probably the best place to watch live streams from Australia. They have even recently made the effort to add information about feeding times and identifying who's who in each enclosure, so you can really get invested in the animals.
Zoos Victoria has listed the tag colours of each penguin so you know who is who. They also often have penguins doing activities right in front of the camera, whether it's getting fed or enjoying a sprinkler.
Taronga Zoo (Australia) Inspired by the COVID-19 crisis, Taronga has recently set up Taronga TV, which is more than just a series of live cams; it aims to be a virtual zoo experience. You can still watch animals live, 24/7, like the tigers and elephants, but the zoo is also in the process of setting up recordings of their feeding sessions, live shows and more. The post videos about their wildlife hospitals and plan to include educational resources in the future. When it's all set up, I expect it will at least rival what Zoos Victoria offers.
Tigers on Taronga TV. Taronga, like Zoos Victoria, provides information on the feeding times of its animals and the best times to catch them.
San Diego Zoo (USA) San Diego Zoo has quite a lot of high-quality live streams of its animals. When you live in Australia, the time difference makes these hard to catch, but otherwise, it's easily a world-leader in zoo live streams. These streams are actively monitored (where COVID-19 allows) and the camera angles change depending on where the animal is in its enclosure. A lot of other zoo live streams can be empty while an animal is elsewhere, so this is a huge advantage.
San Diego Zoo's Ape Cam is a favourite of mine. Active and funny, the orangutans and siamangs make good viewing on a live stream. In this cam, an orangutan was determined to climb along the rope with a bag over its head.
Animals you can catch at San Diego Zoo include baboons, penguins, apes, koalas, polar bears, butterflies, elephants, giraffes, owls, tigers and condors. The zoo also has archive videos of its pandas that can be watched at any time (the pandas have since been returned to China).
While I watched the giraffes, the camera moved with them as they walked away.
San Diego Zoo also has ZOONOOZ, an online version of the San Diego Zoo Global magazine. This site is full of resources and articles ready to teach you about the world's animals and what's going on at the zoo.
Smithsonian National Zoo (USA) This zoo has four animals on video cams; elephants, pandas, lions, and naked mole-rats. The cameras don't produce the high-quality streams that San Diego Zoo has, but this is another zoo that has someone watch the feed, changing the camera displayed so the animal is always visible (although with COVID-19, this hasn't always been possible). The zoo has also developed a kids' activity pack that you can download, featuring animals from the live streams.
Chattanooga Zoo (USA) Chattanooga Zoo has live-streams of its meerkats, snow leopards, tamarins and spotted genets. They don't seem completely reliable though and I've rarely caught an animal on them.
Milwaukee County Zoo (USA) The Milwaukee County Zoo has a whole website called ZooView) dedicated to live cams, due to a partnership with the Zoological Society of Milwaukee . Again, these aren't the best quality streams, but you can catch a polar bear, jaguars, penguins, tigers, lions, and hyenas.
Two hyenas watch a zookeeper walk past their enclosure.
In the UK now, Paignton Zoo has 24/7 web cams on its flamingos, Sulawesi crested macaques, and meerkats. I've found all its animals pretty entertaining. The zoo also has a detailed guide to all its animals online.
The stream on the flamingos changes camera every 30 seconds, so you should always see something. I've even been able to see them when it's dark.
Dublin Zoo (Ireland) Dublin Zoo has three live cameras going, on their elephants, penguins and the African Savanna exhibit, which hosts giraffes, zebras, and rhinos. This zoo has one of the poorest quality live-streams, but the cameras are manned, so you should get to see animals. Dublin Zoo also has great online resources about all their animals, so you can learn about the ones you can't see.
There are generally penguins visible on Dublin Zoo live streams.
Websites to check out include EarthCam, which hosts a huge variety of live streams from all over the world, including a camera on Miami Zoo's meerkats. If you want wild animals, it also has a live cam at Camp Kazuma, a safari lodge in Botswana, allowing you to see what's happening at a local water hole.
Another good website to check out is explore.org. This site is dedicated to animals and nature and there are so, so many live streams to chose from. Even better, the site has been really well organised, with cams sorted into categories like Africa, bears, birds, oceans. When I tune in, during the evening (Australia time), I've found some excellent African cams being featured.
Before writing this article, I never knew there were so many ways to enjoy animals on live streams. If you're aware of any I have missed, let me know!