Some of the world’s best zoos, farms and safari parks now have webcams and livestreams of their animal stars, so you can see all sorts of wonderful animals feeding, sleeping, foraging, playing and watching their young – in real time.
We’ve been trawling the web to bring you the best free online views of tigers, pandas, elephants, snow leopards, penguins, crocodiles, meerkats – and even the odd piglet and camouflaging orchid mantis.
Here’s our pick of the best animal webcams and livestreams…
1. Penguins, elephants and rhinos at Dublin Zoo
Dublin zoo, home to over 400 animals from all over the world, has 3 different webcams:
- Penguins: watch them swimming, waddling and playing – and maybe even post a chick; feeding time is at 2.30pm
- Asian elephants: the zoo is home to a family group headed by Bernhardine, with her sister Yasmin and their daughters Asha and Anak; best times to catch them are between 10.30am and 12.30pm;
- African savanna animals, including rhinos, giraffes, rhinos, ostriches, zebras – and the scimitar-horned oryx antelope, which is completely extinct in the wild.
The cams are experiencing really high traffic at the moment, so you may find the stream you want is unavailable for a bit (try looking at their very good Animal Encyclopedia while you’re waiting). The zoo is working on building their webcam capacity so hopefully things should be more immediately accessible soon.
2. Lions, chameleons, Komodo dragons and more at Chester Zoo
Chester Zoo has been hosting Virtual Zoo Days where a keeper takes you round the grounds, giving you a close-up peek at everything from red pandas, lions and baby elephants to tree kangaroos, Komodo dragons, butterflies, tigers, penguins – and, of course, Mr Parsons the chameleon (star of Channel 4’s The Secret Life of the Zoo).
- Cheetahs grab a quick lunch (warning: involves raw meat)
- Chimpanzee feeding time
- Feeding the penguins and weighing the teeny chicks
- Asian short-clawed otters having (a very squeaky!) breakfast
Chester Zoo is currently under threat of closure, after the long shutdown due to coronavirus. If you’d like to contribute to its fundraising after you’ve watched the animals, you can visit its Just Giving page.
3. Tigers, penguins, giant pandas and koalas at Edinburgh Zoo
Edinburgh Zoo is home to over 2,500 animals – many of them endangered – in its 82 acres of hillside, and it now has 6 live-streaming webcams, too:
- Pandacam: starring the giant panda Yang Guang, who chomps through 20kg bamboo every day.
- Penguincam: plenty of waddling action from over 100 penguins, including gentoos and king penguins.
- Rockhopper penguincam: these distinctive-looking penguins (yellow feathers and bright red eyes) don’t waddle but, as their name suggests, hop from rock to rock.
- Tigercam: Dharma the Sumatran tiger is quite camera-shy; good times to spot her are in the morning or early afternoon.
- Koalacam: Tanami the koala spends a lot of time asleep (uptimes to 22 hours a day!); tune in in the morning to catch her eating breakfast.
- Lioncam: watch the 1-year-old Asiatic lion cubs Mitaali, Keshari and Kushanu with their mum Roberta and dad Jayendra.
Edinburgh Zoo is looking for help feeding its animals while it’s closed to the public; if you’d like to help, you can donate through its Support Us page.
4. Snow leopards, meerkats, zebras – and ‘dinos after dark’ at Paradise Wildlife Park
Paradise Wildlife Park in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire doesn’t have webcams but it does have the most amazing programme of live events on its Facebook page.
Over recent weeks, we’ve seen zebras, tapirs, snow leopards, African penguins and armadillos – and heard their keepers reveal all sorts of interesting facts about them. We also tuned in to 1 of their brilliant Dinos After Dark events, where at 9.30pm, they stream a virtual tour – with suitably roar-some sound effects – of the 30 huge animatronic dinosaurs that ‘live’ in the Park.
All the live events are saved on their Facebook page – or packaged into Facebook videos – to watch again. Our favourites include:
- Snow Leopard Sundays: tune in to see Jessie the snow leopard snuggle up with her partner Panja – new livestreams every Sunday evening (and saved to video).
- Meerkats in a Ball Pit: a whole group of meerkats dive excitedly into a coloured ball pit. We challenge you to watch this without smiling – a lot!
- Jaguar Training Live: watch keepers show you how they train jaguars – partly so they will allow vets to examine them and partly so they learn natural behaviours, such as climbing trees.
- Meet the red pandas: see the (super-cute) Himalayan red pandas chomp on fruit and bamboo and learn why they’re endangered in the wild.
Paradise Wildlife Park has launched an Animal Support Fund; you can donate through the park’s Facebook page fundraising post.
5. Tigers and penguins and Trev the roller bird at Dudley Zoo
Dudley Zoo & Castle has 2 webcams – 1 for a group of Humboldt penguins and 1 for their 2 Sumatran tigers – which you can watch on their website.
They also put short videos of all sorts of other animals on their Facebook page – which are ideal for small children who don’t yet have the patience to sit and watch livestreams or longer videos. We particularly like:
- Trev’s locust lunch: a lilac-breasted roller bird swoops on a locust on a branch in his aviary
- Inquisitive ring-tailed lemur: watch Ronnie the baby lemur explore the wood under his mum’s watchful eye
- Capuchin walnut cracking: see how the Clint, the capuchin monkey tries – and tries – to crack open a walnut. Will he succeed?
Dudley Zoo & Castle is looking for help feeding its animals while it’s closed to the public; if you’d like to help, you can donate through its Just Giving page.
6. Elephants, lions and leopards – in the wild – on Africam
Africam is a hub of 10 live webcams set up in strategic positions in remote bushland: you choose which webcam to watch and the sit back to see the most amazing animals amble into shot.
When we were watching – and listening to the soothing soundscape of insects chirping and birds hooting – we were hugely excited to to spot 2 elephants (screenshot above; you can just the eyes of the 2nd elephant glowing in the background). The 1st one started blowing dust over itself and sloshing around in the waterhole. It seriously made us feel like David Attenborough!
Obviously, these are livestreams of the wild, rather than a zoo or wildlife park, so there’s absolutely no guarantee you’ll see anything – but that makes it even more exciting when something does wander on-screen. The cams also zoom and slowly pan round and, sometimes, you can hear the animal before you see it: the anticipation is brilliant.
7. Crocs (and more) at Thrigby Hall
Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens in Norfolk don’t do webcams but they do posted really nice videos on their Facebook page, some of them of Facebook Live events they’ve streamed a while back
We love the amazing video of their HUGE (and slimey!) crocodiles being fed. You can watch as they lumber slowly up to their dinner and then quickly snatch it into their giant jaws. Just to warn you – those crocs are gulping down whole (dead) chickens….
For something a lot less squeamish, try the amazing footage of gibbons having a noisy morning singsong.
8. Virtual live safari at Kruger Park
The virtual live safaris from the Djuma Private Game Reserve in South Africa’s Kruger National Park is a must-see. Every day – once at sunrise (5.30am, UK time) and again at sunset (2pm, UK time) – the rangers take to their Jeeps, hooked up with cameras, drones, and remote tree cams, to film happenings from the reserve. It’s like reality TV with animals – you never know what’s going to happen but it’s totally authentic and utterly fascinating.
You can can see the most amazing animals in their natural habitats, including elephants, giraffes, leopards, wildebeests. In the sunrise video stream we enjoyed (you can catch up with previous virtual safaris on video), we spied a leopard having a lovely long drink from a puddle. Then one of the rangers hears an elephant trumpet, and finds a small herd of them. It makes for magical, tranquil viewing.
The staff really get up close with the animals – we saw a leopard calmly stroll past the safari car on its way to look for food – so you can see them in so much detail, you almost feel you’re there! Catch all these incredible livestreams on the WildEarth YouTube channel.
9. Piglets, lambs – and a farmyard classroom – at Bocketts Farm
Bockett’s Farm Park is running all sorts of animal-watching events from its Facebook page, including regular livestreams from different parts of the farm and a lovely series of Farmyard Classroom sessions (with accompanying worksheets) on everything from feeding and grooming the pygmy goats to the life cycle of a chicken.
All the livestreams and Farmyard Classroom sessions are saved as videos, so you can catch up with anything you’ve missed. We particularly recommend:
- Lambing Live: wonderful livestreams recorded with farmer Martin in the lambing shed while lambing season was in full swing
- Shearing time: watch farmer Martin shear Sampson the sheep in super-quick time
- Rosie and the piglets: see Rosie the sow take her black-and-white piglets outside for the very 1st time to snuffle around in the grass
10. Live wildlife Q& As with Steve Backshall
OK, so this is a bit different from the other webcams and livestreams we’ve mentioned but we reckon small animal lovers will be fascinated by these virtual Q&As with wildlife expert and CBBC’s Deadly 60 presenter Steve Backshall. They happen every Wednesday at 9.30am, live on Facebook and YouTube – and you can watch them later on video if you miss one.
Children are positively encourage to post animal questions for Steve to answer: “There are no silly questions,” he says. “Give it a go!” So, if your child want to know why lions have manes, what worms eat or which animal has the most poisonous sting, now is the chance to get this super-knowledgeable nature expert to answer their question!
You’ll also get the chance to see Steve showing off some of the amazing animals and insects in and around his home by the river Thames, such as the camouflaging orchid mantis (pictured above).
More great wildlife webcams from around the world
Smithsonian’s National Zoo webcams: fab US-based animal footage from Washington DC’s famous zoo. Choose from the Lion Cam, Giant Panda Cam, Naked Mole-rat Cam, Cheetah Cub Cam, Black-footed Ferret Cam and Elephant Cam.
Melbourne Zoo: 24/7 livestreams of snow leopards, giraffes, lions, penguins and zebras, plus limited-time appearances from ‘special guests’ and videos of keeper talks and virtual encounters with platypus and giraffes.
Cornell Lab Bird Cams: a collection of 15 birdcams, stationed in Panama, New Zealand, Canada, Bermuda, New York (and more), streaming live footage of hawks, petrels, albatross, kestrels, owls, condors (and more).
Dyfl Osprey Project: livestreams from an osprey nest in Wales
Old Friends Animal Sanctuary: super-chilled livestream of old dogs eating, playing and snoozing in the relaxation room of their sanctuary shelter in Tennessee, US.