Wildlife comes to your couch
Hidden cameras in nature and zoos across the world are bringing Mother Earth closer to home amid lockdown
Our world has become more connected than ever during the Covid-19 outbreak. Although the government has eased some measures of the lockdown policy and allowed some places to reopen, not all of them have. Some attractions remain closed, including national parks, zoos and aquariums.
This picture of Lin Hui was posted by Chiang Mai Zoo via its Facebook page. (Photo © Chiang Mai Zoo)
The Zoo At Home programme, which began recently, has various educational video clips available at facebook.com/Zpothailand. their latest clip is about ring-tailed lemurs in Khao Kheow open Zoo in Chon Buri. the animal is one of 105 lemur species living in the world. While some species are herbivores and others are omnivores, the ring-tailed lemurs like eating fruits and leaves and have a ringed tail that is longer than their body length. the body size of an adult ring-tailed lemur can reach about 43cm while the length of the tail can be up to 53cm. they live together in troops and have an average lifespan of about 18 years. (Photos © ZoologiCal Park organiZation)
Elephants play next to a reservoir in tembe Elephant Park in South Africa. Explore.org has partnered with Africam.com to bring you highdefinition livestreams. once you click on the link to tembe Elephant Park, the feed will transport you to the savanna or a forest where you can spot not only elephants but also other wildlife. once the animals pass from view, the live feed will be replaced with a stream from other hidden cameras. this will give you the feeling of watching wild animals through binoculars in an air-conditioned tent. If you are lucky, you may spot big animals as well like lions, rhinos and buffalos. (Photo © Explore.org)
However, with the help of technology and fast internet, we can observe animals through livecams worldwide. Although nothing can beat the real experience of spotting wildlife in their habitat, peeking into their lives via hidden cameras can somehow bring us more understanding about animals.
My top favourite is Explore.org (explore.org/livecams), which is regarded as the home of the world's largest network of live nature cams. Joining hands with multiple partners, Explore has numerous livestreams of animals across the world via high-definition hidden cameras.
"At Explore, we are archivists," said Charles Annenberg Weingarten via the Explore.org website. He is the vice-president and director of his family's Annenberg Foundation and the founder of Explore.org.
The mission of the website is to allow us to experience nature as it is. It provides us with an opportunity to be up close with nature. The founder is hoping that the service will encourage people to be lifelong learners and make them fall in love with the world we live in.
The site's livestreams allow us to witness the wonders of wildlife such as elephants in South Africa. While watching the elephants, you may see other wild animals like giraffes and might also hear birds chirping or monkeys calling. Meanwhile, other streams give you the opportunity to see manatees or sea cows in Florida, polar bears in Canada, gorillas in Congo or giant pandas in China.
Although a zoom function is not available, those who control the cameras in each location sometimes provide close-up moments or do camera pans to follow the movements of the animals so that we can see them closer. In each livestream, information about each animal is also available.
If you are a dog or cat lover, the website also has live streams of them in rescue centres.
In Thailand, the Zoological Park Organization (ZPO) has partnered with the Bureau of Conservation and Research to launch the Zoo At Home programme via Facebook at facebook.com/ZpoThailand.
It features a live programme every Friday at 12.30pm. Last Friday, the one-hour show was about the life of lemurs in Khao Kheow Open Zoo in Chon Buri. The programme has two hosts, one of which is a veterinarian. They shared information about lemurs' behaviour, their living habitat, and what they eat. The audience can ask questions or share their opinions by leaving comments while watching the livestream. Before the end of each programme, viewers can vote on which animal they want to watch in the next episode. After the programme ends, a clip of the recording is also posted on the site.
Khao Kheow Open Zoo also has a live programme called Zoo To Home at facebook.com/kkopenzoo. It broadcasts every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 3.15pm to 3.45pm. It aims to educate viewers about the living conditions of animals in the zoo. After the programme, the show is posted on the zoo's YouTube channel at youtube.com/c/KhaoKheowOpenZoo. Unfortunately, the video clips are not steady and it seems as if they were shot via a phone camera by an amateur videographer or perhaps by a staff member of the zoo. The programme is in Thai only.
To connect you with nature, other popular zoos and animal reservation centres in many parts of the world also have livestreams such as the San Diego Zoo (zoo.sandiegozoo.org), The Smithsonian's National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute in Washington (nationalzoo.si.edu), Vancouver Aquarium (vanaqua.org), Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding (ipanda.com) and Jigokudani Monkey Park in Nagano, Japan (en.jigokudani-yaenkoen.co.jp).
Make sure that your internet connection is fast enough and you may also want to have a bowl of popcorn or crisps nearby while you enjoy the show.
Thanks to the ‘Decorah Eagle Cam’ and Explore.org, we can watch the lives of a family of bald eagles in their nest in Iowa in the United States. The sights and sounds from the nest are brought to us by the non-profit Raptor Resource Project. We can watch the parents raise their three chicks up close and personal. For example, we can see how the mother tears fish with her beak and feeds it to her offspring or hear the cries of the eagle chicks. If you’re lucky, you can even see the parents clean the nest or witness the family sleep by cuddling together. Thousands of people watch the stream every day. It is very adorable. (Photos: Explore.org)
The San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park offer 12 choices of livecams including livestreaming of a Bengal tiger, platypuses, giraffes, owls and baboons. The livestreams (zoo.sandiegozoo.org/live-cams) are broadcast from 7.30am to 7.30pm Pacific time or during the daytime in San Diego. When it’s night, it will rebroadcast the stream of that day’s session. (Photos: San Diego zoo and San Diego zoo safari park)
The Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute in Washington provides livestreaming of five animals including cheetah cubs, naked mole-rats, lions, giant pandas and elephants at nationalzoo.si.edu/webcams. Each camera provides information about the animals. While watching the Cheetah Cub Cam, we are told that the four cubs were born on April 8 to the five-year-old mother named Echo. It was her first pregnancy. The camera in her den is for monitoring Echo’s health around the clock which means you can watch Echo and her cute cubs day and night. The zoo has more than 230 species of animal. It provides information as well as pictures of wildlife in the “Meet Animals” section. You can browse the animals from A-Z or by type and conservation status. (Photos: Smithsonian's national zoo & Conservation biology institute)
It is hard to resist clicking on a livestream of giant pandas. The cute face of the bear and its daily life always draws the attention of netizens. Visit iPanda. com to see various panda livestreams. The service is a joint venture between China Central Television and the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. The aim is to let fans of giant pandas worldwide see the lovely bears in their protected environment. The television network installed 28 cameras in the centre allowing people to see daily activities of the bears such as eating and playing. On the website iPanda.com, you can choose to watch only the mother and kids, only panda cubs, or adults. The livestream may remind you of the time when Chiang Mai Zoo broadcast Lin Hui raising her cub Lin Ping 24 hours a day. However with iPanda.com, you can see many more of them. (Photos: ipanda.com)
The Jigokudani Monkey Park or Jigokudani Yaen Koen in the Japanese language has live cameras for you to observe the life of Japanese macaques, or snow monkeys, in their habitat. The location of the camera is the forests of the Jigokudani valley in Yamanouchi in northern Nagano. The cameras are installed in the area around a popular manmade hot spring where the wild monkeys love to dip and stay warm in winter. At present in the springtime, some macaques can be spotted around the pool and the banks of the stream. Visit jigokudani-yaenkoen.co.jp/livecam2/video_en.php to see the macaques. (Photos: Jigokudani monkey park)
Vancouver Aquarium provides livecams of jellyfish, penguins and sea otters at (vanaqua.org/live-cams). The sea otters seem to be the most popular animal because the aquarium offers viewers a choice of cameras where you can see otters floating and eating or swimming underwater. The aquarium is home to six rescued sea otters and 50,000 other animals. It houses 30 exhibits ranging from the Tropics to the Arctic including a re-creation of the Amazon forest with aquatic and terrestrial life. The aquarium also has an e-adoption programme if you would like to support the raising of sea otters, sea lions and sharks. (Photos: Vancouver aquarium)