With winter in full swing, you might be looking for ways to stay entertained. One way to enrich your mind is to take virtual tours of zoos and aquariums — right from the comfort of your own home.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Located in Northern California, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has become a leader in ocean conservation since opening in 1984. With more than 200 exhibits and 80,000 animals and plants, this aquarium is a must-visit, even if it’s just virtually. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a variety of live cams available to watch, focusing on areas and animals like the aviary, jellyfish, kelp forest, penguins, moon jellyfish, sea otters, and sharks. You can also get a great view of the Monterey Bay coast to search for sailboats, birds, and other animals that may show up. If that isn’t enough, you can also choose the open sea cam to see a handful of creatures, like turtles and tuna, soaring through the water. Outside of live cam action, you can also view many of the aquarium’s exhibits online and learn about the animals that inhabit them through highlight videos and informative descriptions.
Home to and founded by the famous Irwin family of wildlife conservationists, the Australia Zoo stretches across 700 acres of land in the state of Queensland. The zoo opened in 1970 and became internationally known when the founders’ son, Steve Irwin, starred in “The Crocodile Hunter” television show in 1996. If you’re lucky enough to visit the zoo in person, there are various exciting exhibits on-site and entertaining shows that occur daily. But you can catch a lot of the fun on the Australia Zoo’s YouTube channel, where it uploads new videos every Thursday and Saturday. The channel has many playlists that go in depth on zoo life, the Wildlife Warriors missions, and the Irwin family adventures.
Located in the downtown area of Baltimore, the National Aquarium opened in 1981 and typically sees 1.5 million visitors come through its doors annually. The nonprofit aquarium houses over 20,000 creatures and won the Maryland Green Registry Leadership Award in 2011 for showing “a strong commitment to sustainable practices, measurable results, and continuous improvement.” On the aquarium’s website, you can take a floor-by-floor virtual tour of the entire facility. You’re in control to move about the aquarium with your computer keys, stopping to view the exhibits at your leisure. The site also gives you the option to skip to certain areas like Shark Alley, Amazon River, Pacific Coral Reef, and more. If you’re looking for more details on the animals, the Exhibits page offers opportunities to learn more about many inhabitants of the aquarium.
San Diego Zoo
When you search for “top zoos in the U.S.,” the San Diego Zoo in California is often the No. 1 result — and for good reason. Over half a million people are members of the zoo, which is home to some of the first open-air cage less exhibits that recreate animal habitats. Since opening in 1916, the San Diego Zoo has won more than 20 awards for its conservation efforts. To see some of the incredible exhibits from your home, the zoo has a long list of live cams available. You can get up close to elephants, giraffes, hippos, koalas, pandas, penguins, platypuses, polar bears, condors, burrowing owls, baboons, and apes. If you’ve got a smart TV, try watching the cams on a big screen to make the viewing experience more dynamic. The zoo also has stories about many of the animals, providing additional enrichment opportunities.
These are just a few of the zoos and aquariums around the world that offer gorgeous views of nature and the wonderful animals that inhabit the Earth. Take some time to appreciate them from home if you can’t visit in person.