Visit Wild Places With These 10 Stunning Wildlife Webcams

By Hannah Riley
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Photo Courtesy: Sergei Malgavko/Getty Images

Many of us are stuck inside quite a bit these days. Even those who are able to get outside may find that parks, zoos and natural areas are closed to large groups. Many people have canceled or postponed their vacations for the summer of 2020 and plan to remain closer to home in urban settings. Nature has never been more difficult to escape to.

Thankfully, technology comes to the rescue. Webcams and live streams of wildlife and natural settings are providing some relief, helping us experience the great outdoors and the animal life within it while our travels are on pause. Here, we’re breaking down the top 10 nature and wildlife cams to help get you and your family through quarantine while enjoying the meditative relaxation only nature and its beautiful inhabitants can provide.

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Wild Earth

Feel like going on safari but aren’t able to travel to South Africa to embark on one? No worries. The folks from Wild Earth are ready to take you on a virtual excursion. This webcam network uses remote cams, drones, safari vehicles, guides on foot, rovers and other streaming techniques and technologies to bring majestic wild beasts into your home via computer screen.

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Photo Courtesy: Wild Earth/YouTube

Using Wild Earth, you can interact with an expert guide in real time and ask them your questions as you marvel at elephants, leopards, hippos, lions and other animals in the heart of the African wilderness. All of Wild Earth’s cams are located on reserves around South Africa, allowing you to view protected animals living and interacting safely in their (mostly) natural settings.

Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center

The mission of the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center (GRACE) is to end threats to the eastern lowland gorilla, also known as Grauer’s gorilla, population in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The organization’s hope is that human activity ceases to encroach on gorilla habitats and that, in the absence of poaching and other interference, these great apes can begin to thrive once again.

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Photo Courtesy: Explore Live Nature Cams/YouTube

GRACE operates a live stream using cameras set up in its sanctuary and on the Tayna Nature Reserve, an area next to the organization’s operations center where around 300 gorillas live. Watch the gorillas — along with other wildlife like okapi and chimpanzees — forage for food (or dine on goodies grown on GRACE’s sustainable farm) and interact with one another in a peaceful, lush environment.

Mpala Research Centre

This live stream is located in Central Kenya near the Mpala Research Centre, an organization "of science, education and outreach to benefit nature and people" and a "living laboratory to help you find answers for wildlife conservation." This particular camera focuses in on the goings-on at a local watering hole, where a slew of different species come to drink and splash; it’s a hub of activity for animals like hippos, elephants, crocodiles, giraffes, Grevy’s zebras, gazelles and leopards.

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Photo Courtesy: Explore Africa/YouTube

If you’re watching with kids, keep in mind that this is unscripted nature at its best. Looking at the list of species above, you might’ve already realized that many of these animals don’t exactly get along with each other, and conflicts and confrontations (or even the occasional attack) are bound to happen eventually — perhaps while you’re watching. Expecting the unexpected is part of the excitement of this stream, but remember the potential for watering hole wrangles as you’re viewing with a younger crowd.

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The Vancouver Aquarium

The Vancouver Aquarium is one of the many places that closed to the public in response to coronavirus-related quarantine and shelter-in-place directives, but you can still visit — virtually. With dedicated cameras that let you peek into the lives of some of the facility’s most beloved creatures, along with plenty of fauna facts on most pages, the aquarium’s site is also a great educational resource for kids and adults alike.

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Photo Courtesy: Vancouver Aquarium/YouTube

Watch the Pacific sea nettles slowly bob, sway, unfurl and glide through the cerulean depths of their tank, or see if you can catch a glimpse of an African penguin or two toddling about on the rocks in their enclosure. And don’t forget the sea otters — these cuddly crowd favorites have two dedicated camera streams, one underwater and one above their habitat, that let you get the best views of playtime and lunchtime antics.

The International Wolf Center

Mysterious and beautiful, wolves are much more elusive than their domesticated relatives that we share our homes with. But you can take a peek into their (semi) wild world by loading up the Minnesota-based International Wolf Center's live stream of its ambassador pack members, who represent several different wolf species, as they roam around their 1.25-acre enclosure.

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Photo Courtesy: International Wolf Center/YouTube

The primary camera focuses on Denali, Boltz, Axel, Greyson and others as new pups are born, providing glimpses into their behavior as they interact with one another and with the forested area, dens and pond in their living space. The International Wolf Center maintains these captive wolf populations with the goal of teaching the world about wolves, and these live streams help it achieve that mission — without you ever needing to leave home.

Eagle's Nest in Decorah, Iowa

Decorah, Iowa, is a tiny town that, in the past, was primarily known as an epicenter of Norwegian culture thanks to its high number of settlers from that country...until bald eagles entered the picture. In 2013, a massive — 9 feet wide by 7 feet long by 5 feet deep and 56 feet off the ground — bald eagle nest was discovered in a white oak tree just outside the town and, with support from the Raptor Resource Project organization, a live cam was set up to keep an eye on the nest’s inhabitants.

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Photo Courtesy: Explore Live Nature Cams/YouTube

If you’re a fan of birdwatching, this is the live stream for you. A community of devoted eagle fans has also cropped up in recent years, and you can join discussions to ask questions and learn something new while you observe the birds of prey dive for food and tend to hatchlings.

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Rubbing Beach Cam

The Rubbing Beach live cam offers a great way to see and hear orca whales in their natural environment. The camera is set up in the chilly waters of the Johnstone Strait in British Columbia, a spot that’s home to around 150 orcas during summer months. As with many other cams, you may need to wait a bit before the animals make their appearance. In the case of Rubbing Beach, however, you can often hear them even when they aren’t visible.

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Photo Courtesy: Wolfgang Kaehler/Getty Images

The orcas’ calls create soothing sounds that live-stream viewers often remark help them drift off into peaceful sleep. But these massive mammals also exhibit another interesting behavior that gave this camera stream its name: "beach rubbing." This population of orcas swims close to the strait’s rocky shores so they can rub their bellies on the smooth stones lining the beach — a phenomenon that’s unique to this specific group of whales that spends summers here. Beach rubbing hasn’t been observed in any other orca populations around the world, and getting a glimpse of this distinctive behavior is one reason why the cam is a must-view experience.

Aquarium of the Pacific

The Aquarium of the Pacific is one of Long Beach, California’s, most famous tourist attractions, frequently appearing on "best of" lists thanks to the 11,000 incredible sea creatures that call the facility home. With exhibits and seascapes that represent underwater life from regions around the entire Pacific Rim, there’s always a ton to check out at the Aquarium of the Pacific. But what if you can’t make it to SoCal to learn about marine conservation or pet the bamboo and epaulette sharks in the touch tank?

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Photo Courtesy: Explore Oceans/YouTube

The Shark Lagoon cam is the next best thing. This 24/7 live stream offers a delightfully close-up view of the tank in the 10,000-square-foot Shark Lagoon exhibit, which is home to over 150 different sharks and rays. Positioned below the water’s surface, this streaming cam provides a front-row seat to the relaxing scene of sea creatures swimming. If you’re in the mood for a bit more action, head here to find out daily times when you can observe live feedings.

Brown Bears in Romania

Operated not by a non-profit or conservation organization but instead by residents of a remote town that sees more than its fair share of bear activity, this streaming feed's webcams are installed in the forests of Transylvania in Romania. Initially spooked by local bears’ growing fearlessness and brazen attempts to enter yards and roam along roads to find food, the camera operator began feeding the creatures on a remote piece of property to keep them away from town.

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Photo Courtesy: Bear Watching Transylvania/YouTube

The next obvious step? Set up a video camera to keep tabs on the ursine diners. The decision to stream all the activity online attracted viewers, and now you can tune in regularly to see the aforementioned bears, along with deer, boars, foxes and several other animal species, roam the woods. These days the bears are well-known enough to have earned their own names; keep an eye out for Balu, Málna, Béni and Csipás on the cams.

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Big Cat Rescue

The Tiger Lake webcam doesn’t show you big cats in their natural setting; this is the wildlife cam operated by Big Cat Rescue, which was featured in the Netflix documentary series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.

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Photo Courtesy: Explore Cats Lions Tigers/YouTube

The tigers, jaguars, leopards, lions, bobcats and other ferocious felines shown on the Tiger Lake webcam have been rescued from private zoos and exotic pet breeders and cannot be introduced into their natural habitats. Despite the backlash it experienced from the controversy surrounding the Netflix series and the organization’s founder, Carole Baskin, Big Cat Rescue aims to provide the best home possible for the animals as they live out the rest of their natural lives — which you can watch on the stream from the comfort of your home.