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Watching animals helps. A lot. Here are the best webcams

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is closed for a while, but you can still watch koalas by webcam.
(Howard Lipin / San Diego Union-Tribune)

As the coronavirus crisis closes favorite places, a virtual trip may be in order, whether you want to see wildlife at an aquarium or a zoo or to appreciate art.

Before you “go,” remember that wildlife may not appear when you tune in. (That’s what videos are for.) Like domestic cats, their wild counterparts appear only when it suits them.

Here are places easy to visit from an armchair around California and the West.

Dive into an aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

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Need a soothing break from working at home? Go to the webcam at Monterey Bay Aquarium (montereybayaquarium.org), which tracks moon jellyfish in real time. The camera provides close-ups of the translucent creatures shifting effortlessly through the water. Depending on what they eat, they appear pink (crustaceans) or orange (brine shrimp), the website says.

You also can gaze at a view of Monterey Bay from the aquarium’s deck, and watch African penguins waddle around their habitat. There are more live animal cams too.

The aquarium is closed at least through April 8, but a skeleton staff cares for the animals inside, according to the website.

Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach

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You can see sand tiger, zebra and whitetip reef sharks on the move on the Shark Lagoon webcam (bit.ly/LongBeachaquarium) at the Long Beach aquarium. The webcam gives a clear view of the tank with good angles of the sharks as they zip past. Then you can switch over to the kelp forest of Honda Blue Cavern, which is modeled after Blue Cavern Point off Santa Catalina Island.

Other webcams watch penguins and sea jellies in the Northern Pacific gallery. You can also learn about frogs and experience interactive web exhibits, such as “Whales: Voices in the Sea,” where you can click to hear the voices of humpback whales.

The aquarium is closed through March 31, its website says, so check before going. It also points online users to its many virtual exhibits.

Enjoy wildlife at the zoo

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

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One of the best webcams at the park focuses on the African plains habitat from the Kijamii Overlook (lat.ms/SDsafaripark). I watched African rhinos, antelopes and giraffes roaming around during daytime hours. Other webcams — African elephants, tigers, koalas, and more — require a little patience. (I had to wait for elephants to walk into view on that cam, and the panning tiger habitat cam came up empty.)

San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo gives online visitors webcam peeks (lat.ms/SDzoowebcams) at penguins, polar bears, baboons and other animals. The baboons appeared to be most active during the day, and the webcam pans their habitat. Videos can make you feel like you’re close to sloth bear brothers or cheetahs.

Both facilities are closed indefinitely.

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Stop and view the roses

The Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Garden in San Marino is closed through April 14. But you may view the library’s collection and works of art, including paintings of the California missions.

Then take online tours of its botanical collections (bit.ly/huntingtoncollections), including rose-by-rose highlights of the the rose garden. Did you know there’s a Rosa Neil Diamond variety?

You can also view highlights (not live webcams) of the Garden of Flowing Fragrance, also known as the Chinese garden, and the Japanese garden.

Eagles, elephant seals and wildcats, oh, my

You can watch eagles on a variety of live cams provided by explore.org, but the eagles don’t always cooperate. The live cam views of eagles (bit.ly/Channeleaglecam) in Channel Islands National Park are a bit hit or miss. After watching a solitary eagle in the Sauces Eagle nest, I found none at home in the Fraser Point Nest. So I switched to an Explore eagle live cam (bit.ly/2Harborseaglecam) at Two Harbors on Catalina Island.

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California Coastal Commission cams (bit.ly/coastalcam) give you views of Northern elephant seals turning up in the state’s central coastal areas right now, including seal pups at Piedras Blancas and elephant seals and shore birds on Año Nuevo Island, at a state park of the same name, along with many other shoreline critters.


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