One thing I know that my kids love - as many kids and adults love - is to see cute images or videos of animals. Whether it be puppies, kittens, or lion cubs rolling around and playing together, smiles are almost always an automatic response when it comes to my kids (ages 5 and 7). So, let’s explore some zoos and aquariums where you and your kids can have a moment to tap into some happiness with live feeds or interactive programs being offered right now.
San Diego Zoo: African Penguins
Penguins are usually the number one animal our kids want to see when it comes to visiting a zoo or aquarium. The San Diego Zoo offers a live look at African penguins on the bank of a 200,000-gallon pool. Watching for five to ten minutes alone, my kids and I watched penguins standing in clusters, jumping into the water, and shaking or waddling around, which lent to some squeals from my own kids. Although this view is right above the surface of the water, you can see disturbances at the surface of the water and faint images of penguins or the leopard sharks that share the same pool. Rest assured, the San Diego Zoo says, “Don’t worry, the two species get along swimmingly!”
Interesting fact: African penguins “build nests out of their own excrement, called guano, under bushes or rocks. This shelter provides them protection from the harsh sun during hot African days.” One thing a younger audience might enjoy, or at least my own kids do, is whenever they get a chance to have “potty talk.” It is quite juvenile for them to joke silly by using bathroom words to be silly with each other, so if your kids enjoy that kind of humor, they’ll definitely enjoy learning, or find funny, how these birds protect themselves in the wild.
If your kids find that kind of information gross, they might enjoy knowing that these penguins grow to about 2-feet tall, eat a variety of food from sardines to squid, and they “can hold their breath over 2 minutes and dive over 400 feet deep!”
To get a glance at these animals, please check out the San Diego Zoo penguin cam! This zoo also offers cameras into other habitats, including apes, baboons, condors, elephants, koalas, panda and polar bears, and tigers. You and your kids can pick and choose what to watch from your computer or TV by heading to their live cam page.
Aquarium of the Pacific: Online Academy
Located in Long Beach, California, Aquarium of the Pacific has created an educational resource for all ages. The staff will continually update its website to show new sessions being offered as they become available. Their aquarium academy will offer “on-demand videos and activities for all ages and a schedule of interactive live programs with our educators, from virtual classroom sessions to Pacific Pals puppets.”
In a live video on Friday, March 27, 2020, a staff member shared information that was all about sea turtles. One of the most fascinating things that kids love is learning about the very different characteristics from animals all over the world. With regards to sea turtles, your kids will learn in this video that when they’re active, they’ll come up for air every 5 to 20 minutes; however, when underwater and less active, they have the ability to hold their breath for up to 5 hours!
The Online Academy has offered information sessions about sharks, how animals use their senses to survive, kelp or coral conservation, and a variety of other topics. The Aquarium of the Pacific also hosts live camera feeds, including underwater views of sharks, penguins, jellyfish, and a tropical reef that “represents the famous Blue Corner off the coast of Palau… considered one of the most beautiful dive sites in the world.”
Even if you and your kids need a change of scenery, this is a great opportunity to turn on your TV and connect with these live feeds through the YouTube app. Even if you want to read, play games, or have on during instructional time at home, these live feeds allow kids to be transported somewhere else without having to go anywhere. In our house, we’ve already pulled up “Tropical Reef Camera powered by EXPLORE.org.” As a shortcut, if you search on YouTube, “tropical reef,” this live feed is the first option that presents itself.
Cincinnati Zoo: Home Safari
Staff members from the Cincinnati Zoo are providing daily live videos on Facebook at 3 p.m./EDT. If you’re unable to catch the videos live, they also host Home Safari videos on YouTube. This provides an up close and personal look at a variety of animals. For example, Home Safari explores Kris the Cheetah, where kids can see the cat right next to the camera and learn a bunch of amazing facts.
Cheetahs have upwards to 2 to 3,000 spots and those spots have a unique feature – “each cheetah has a unique spot pattern,” which lets researchers identify one from another. Additionally, these cats have incredible vision. They “can see for up to 3 miles in perfect detail.” If you had to compare that to a person’s sight, it would be like “standing on a beach and looking down, we could see individual grains of sand.”
If you’re looking for more videos and fun facts about different animals, The Cincinnati Zoo has a Home Safari playlist that includes red pandas, giraffes, hippos, sloths, and much more.
National Aquarium: Live Feeds and Home Activities
The National Aquarium hosts live feeds for their Blacktip Reef, Jellies Invasion, and Pacific Coral Reef exhibits. Kids can also see each of the exhibits on one page, if they want to see if one interests them more than the others. All of these live feeds can be seen from YouTube, as well.
Within each of the exhibits’ landing page, kids also have the opportunity to learn about many different fish or jellies that inhabit within these designated habitats. For anyone that has the ability to print out activities at home, your kids also have the chance to build their own octopus mask, color a variety of different sea animals, or solve word searches.
Other Locations with Live Feeds or Fun Home Activities
The Toronto Zoo provides Parent Resources where kids can dive into a variety of activities, including science experiments such as building a sun catcher or star wheel, water absorption in plants, creating your own hovercraft, and even finding out “How much air do I breathe?” Please note that some of these activities will need parental guidance.
If your kids love birds and bright colors, check out the Flamingo Cam at the Maryland Zoo.
Last, but definitely not least, if you or your kids are looking for adorable koalas to gaze upon, then check out the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and several of their webcams. If your kids have never seen a koala jump from branch to branch, these feeds will definitely provide that opportunity for them.
Above all else, the Geeky Parent Guide hopes to provide various activities for you and your youngsters as we move forward with staying home and keeping our families engaged during these stressful times. This change might provide difficult to maintain a routine, so, hopefully, sharing activities or opportunities to see and learn about different animals will help with that.
If there are any zoos or aquariums you are fond of, please share them with us, and we’ll be happy to share those live feeds or activities on our Twitter and Facebook pages. While you’re there, don’t forget to like our social media pages to stay more up to date on what’s going on in the geeky world of pop culture. Thanks for joining us today, and we’ll see you and your kiddos in a couple of weeks.
Until next time, happy parenting and happy geeking.