Monterey Bay Aquarium, others offer live experiences from the comfort of home

Need an escape from your house? California’s famed Monterey Bay Aquarium is offering online viewers around the world a chance to visit their facility without making the physical trip via 10 live webcams of animals from sea otters to jellyfish. The free webcams are available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. PT on the aquarium’s Facebook page, its YouTube channel and its website. Specifically, the live views feature their fan-favorite sea otter tank, their kelp forest tank, bird aviary, penguins, open sea tank, jellyfish tanks and live views of the Monterey Bay, which surrounds the aquarium. While most of the aquarium’s 500-plus staff members are working from home under the threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19), key employees remain to maintain the building’s operations and tend to the animals there. Those employees include security crews, maintenance workers, and workers who feed and care for the animals. Monterey Bay Aquarium spokesman Ken Peterson told The Mercury News that the sea otters, sea turtles, fish, birds and other wildlife cannot be infected by the virus. “The animals are doing great,” he said. “They are getting the same level of care as they were before. We’re closed on Christmas Day. So, it’s kind of like that for them now.” According to Peterson, during a typical day, about 120 people are watching the wildlife cams online live at any one time. Since the coronavirus outbreak, that number has increased exponentially — more than eight-fold in recent days to more than 1,000 viewers. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is not the only institution offering wildlife webcams. Zoos and museums are also offering more remote experiences. Texas’s Dallas Zoo began sharing behind-the-scenes footage and educational videos on social media with the hashtag #BringTheZooToYou. In a viral video with more than 3.5 million views, the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago caught some of its penguins sneaking into their “Amazon Rising” exhibit. The Cincinnati Zoo is also offering a live at-home safari on its Facebook page each weekday at 3 p.m. ET. The video’s first guest? The beloved hippopotamus Fiona. Meanwhile, the San Diego Zoo directed people last week to 10 live webcams that feature the zoo’s koalas, penguins, tigers and other animals. There was also access to archival footage of giant pandas that were returned to China. “Our team is doing all we can to lift spirits during this challenging time,” Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Executive Director Julie Packard tweeted Friday. “I’m so grateful for their dedication!”

How great is this?!?!  Kudos to all of these zoos and aquariums doing this for the public.  If you want to see the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s YouTube site, just click on the text above.     🙂

Saint Louis Zoo named best zoo in the country, again

The Saint Louis Zoo has been named the best zoo in the country for the second year in a row. Not that there was ever any doubt in our minds. Saint Louis was voted No. 1 in the USA Today best zoo category in the 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards contest. The Saint Louis Zoo was one of 20 nominated U.S. zoos, which were hand-picked by a panel of zoo and family travel experts. “We’re humbled to be chosen again as the best zoo by our dedicated fans in the St. Louis region, across Missouri and friends around the country,” Jeffrey Bonner, president and CEO of the Saint Louis Zoo, said in a statement. “Our visitors, volunteers, members, generous donors, employees, and especially the taxpayers of St. Louis City and St. Louis County are the real champions. It’s through their strong support that we can provide superior care for the animals, save wildlife in wild places, connect people with nature, and offer a great place to spend time with friends and family members.” Visitors to the 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards website were asked to vote for their favorites between April 2 and April 30. Behind the Saint Louis Zoo was Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, and rounding out the top five are, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and the Fort Worth Zoo. In addition to winning in the best zoo category, the Saint Louis Zoo’s Sea Lion Sound exhibit also was named the best zoo exhibit in the USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards contest.

Nice!!  Growing up in St. Louis, I used to go to the St. Louis Zoo ALL the time.  And, sure I’m biased..  BUT..  Having been to the zoo in San Diego, and the National Zoo in D.C, both of which are outstanding, I can still see how the St. Louis Zoo won.  Congrats to Jeffrey Bonner and his team at the St. Louis Zoo.  Another great win for St. Louis!  Excellent!!    🙂