Social distancing and the national lockdown don’t look like they’ll be abating anytime soon, and families may by now be feeling the pressures of not being able to experience much of the world outside their front door. Don’t panic – the zoos of the world have you covered.
Although many are no longer open to the public and the recommended forty-five minute restriction on outdoor activities render them impractical anyway, many zoos and aquariums around the world have opened up their exhibits in other ways to animal lovers everywhere. Embracing the current trend towards digital platforms, would-be visitors may now see their animals and exhibits online through special live streams.
Whether you’re looking for lions or tigers or bears (“Oh my!”), there’s going to be an animal for everyone who tunes in to these special lockdown broadcasts being sent by some of the best zoos going.
Since the lockdown started in earnest, Edinburgh Zoo has hosted a lives stream of some of its enclosures, giving guests a chance to see their animals free of charge.
The streams are available to view on the zoo’s website, with live footage of their pandas, penguins, tigers and koalas. Although Edinburgh Zoo has done its best to ensure that guests will be able to access footage as freely as possible, high traffic may sometimes cause the website to experience technical troubles.
Should that occur, visitors can watch videos of the zoo’s animals on their YouTube or Facebook pages instead. You can find plenty of footage for viewing until the website is back online.
Whereas some zoos are doing blanket broadcasts of all their animals, Cincinnati Zoo are doing something a little different. As the lockdown is an indefinite measure, the Zoo is trying to keep things interesting by instead doing a focused live stream of a pre-selected animal at 3pm EST/8pm GMT every day.
Broadcast from their Facebook page each day, with their first episode featuring Fiona the Hippo, each instalment also includes a children’s activity that can be done while viewing at home. There's plenty of archive footage on their YouTube channel, too!
Starting on the 27th of March, Chester Zoo has been hosting semi-regular live feed tours of its animals and exhibits that are accessible from its Facebook page. If you’ve missed a tour, don’t panic! You can still find the footage there and on YouTube to view later at your leisure.
The tour takes viewers around some of Chester Zoo’s most popular exhibits, such as their Asian elephants, Sumatran tigers, their butterfly enclosure, and the aquarium.
Chester Zoo advertises the dates of their next tour a few days in advance, so keep checking out their Facebook page to see when the next one is scheduled.
For those looking for a trip Down Under without actually going anywhere, the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary has set up no less than fifteen separate live streams covering various points of their site in Queensland, Australia. Their guests are guaranteed to catch a glimpse of one of Australia’s most beloved critters as their climb the trees of the eucalyptus forest, snuggle together in their dens, or chow down at feeding time – which is actually most of the day.
If koalas are not of interest, then not to worry. The Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary also has streams of their other animals such as dingoes, bearded dragons, monitor lizards, and a wide array of Australian birds. So there’s always plenty to see and plenty to learn about.
Found of the balmy coasts of the Pacific, the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California offers a dizzying host of aquatic animals and sea life that is hard to rival in other aquariums. Although the lock down has meant it has had to close its doors, animal watchers can still see their exhibits on no less than ten live cams.
Whether you want to watch the sea otters on the Otter Cam, sharks on the Shark Cam, or a little bit of everything on the Kelp Forest Cam, there’s something for everyone at any time of the day.
By far the most popular cam would be the Sea Otter Cam, because who doesn’t find sea otters adorable? That said, the Jelly Fish and Shark Cams also have their fans. Feeding times are also broadcast, allowing a better glimpse into the daily lives of Monterey Bay’s beloved residents.
A Quick Note: Animals being animals, there is no guarantee that they will always be visible from camera footage. Much like any trip to a zoo, there will be points where they have moved somewhere out of sight in search of privacy, food or some other need and will not be viewable on the live stream. Please be patient when this occurs and try accessing the stream at another time.
Of course the lockdown won't last forever, so while you’re busy being quarantined it’s never too early to start planning ahead for future trips out. After all this we’re all going to be desperate to see the world outside.
If watching these live streams have inspired you to take a look at these impressive zoos, aquariums and sanctuaries in person, then you’ll doubtlessly be pleased to know there’s some excellent hotels nearby as well.
Found on Hill Place, the Ten Hill Place Hotel is a stylish and modern hotel with comfortable rooms and excellent service. Located within the very heart of Edinburgh’s old town it’s perfectly placed to be accessible to all of Edinburgh’s main sites and attractions, with Edinburgh Zoo found just down the road.
Found within the quiet and leafy suburbs of Cincinnati, the Hopkins Park Bed and Breakfast offers its guests a small quiet taste of American suburbia all while being within easy travel distance to the city and all it offers. The rooms are comfortable and inviting, and the hosting couple are eager to welcome any and all. Come for Cincinnati Zoo, but stay for Luna the dog.
The Green Gables Guest House is on Liverpool Road, which means it’s perfectly situated between the Chester Zoo and the city of Chester itself. This hotel is based in a very handsome Victorian house offering cosy and elegant rooms, first class service, and a tranquil garden that’s just fifteen minutes away from the main sites of Chester.
Just a short drive away from Queensland’s capital of Brisbane, the Mt Ommaney Hotel offers a collection of airy and comfortable apartments of all sizes for groups of all sizes, whether they’re singles, couples, or families. Offering a full suite of amenities such as kitchens, lounges, open balconies and bathrooms, they make a perfect place to stay while you explore all of what Queensland has to offer.
Surrounded by Monterrey Bay’s best shopping and dining experiences, the Portola Hotel and Spa gives guests the best access to all that the town has to offer, whether it’s the bustling commercial districts to the golden beaches. It’s just down the coast from Monterrey Bay Aquarium, and the spa offers plenty for visitors seeking a rejuvenating trip to the balmy West Coast.
We may be in lockdown right now but it won’t last forever – where will you be staying on your next vacation to get a dose of animal fun for the whole family?