Cabin Fever Setting In? Join Polar Bears, Koalas, Tigers, and More on a Virtual Safari

River Otters Nathan Bell South Carolina Aquarium

As we all try to adjust to staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic—which has closed schools around the country and forced many parents to work from home—zoos and museums are offering more remote programming. Many zoos are helping to fill the need for children’s activities with “home safaris,” virtual tours, and webcams.

Here's a digital road trip across the nation to catch a few of the animals. What animals can you spot? Let us know on Twitter!

  1. Everyday while school is out, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden will be hosting a “home safari” on their Facebook Live Feed at 3 p.m. ET. They will have up-close animal experiences, plus activities to do at home. You may even get an up close and personal look at the famous Fiona the hippo.
  2. Next, you and your family can travel across the country to the world-famous San Diego Zoo. The San Diego Zoo is currently hosting 10 live webcams to help you meet a large variety of their animals, including the zoo’s koalas, penguins, tigers, and more. They are also sharing stories and fun arts and crafts online.
  3. While you’re over there, stop by the ABQ BioPark for everything from sharks and Komodo dragons to polar bears and more. They have a Facebook Live stream with animal feedings and other content including the New Mexico BioPark Society’s video series “Your Dose of Vitamin Z”.
  4. As you head back east, The Houston Zoo has a completely different assortment of animals that call the zoo their home. Here you can watch the zoo’s herd of Asian elephants wander through their enormous habitat or see the rhinos roll in their mud puddle. For an added bonus, while tuning in to some of the live streams, you can direct the action by using a button in the lower right corner of the screen, allowing you to zoom in and around the habitats for about a minute.
  5. Did you know that the Smithsonian’s National Zoo has webcams available for giant pandas, lions, elephants, and even naked mole rats? The Smithsonian’s webcams stream 24/7, but since the zoo shut down, they are not being staffed by volunteers—that means the animals might sometimes wander out of frame from time to time.
Barn Owl

Whichever zoo you choose, the staff is doing their best to create engaging, educational content and the animals are sure to provide some entertainment and a much-needed break.

For more information, check out our story on how museums are responding to COVID-19, and IMLS updates on coronavirus.

Photos courtesy of the South Carolina Aquarium.