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A giant panda at Edinburgh Zoo

Self-isolating can make the world feel smaller, but there’s no need to get stuck staring at the same four walls. These free animal livestreams are a handy reminder of the cute, fascinating, and maybe slightly scary creatures out there. For even more stunning and inspiring wildlife, check out Wonderstruck, BBC America’s dedicated natural history site available 24/7 to cheer you up.

1. Enjoy penguin feeding time.

The California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco may be closed due to Coronavirus, but its “live penguin cams” are definitely still on. You can watch the huddle of African penguins “frolic, swim, and nest” whenever you like, but if you want to see them getting fed, set an alarm for 7.30am EST or 12pm EST.

2. Hang with some giant pandas.

Edinburgh Zoo is home to the U.K.’s only giant pandas: a female named Tian Tian (which means ‘Sweetie’ in her native tongue) and a male named Yang Guang (which translates as ‘Sunshine’). You can check in with them on the zoo’s live panda cam, but brace yourself for a wait because they can be shy.

3. Pay a visit to the farm.

Specifically, the adorably named Folly Farm in Pembrokeshire, Wales, whose “barn cam” lets you peek at sheep, goats, and newborn lambs. The farm’s owners say “it’s especially exciting when we’ve got new babies,” so you’ll be glad to know the U.K.’s “lambing season” runs through April.

https://twitter.com/FollyFarmWales/status/1237669088819851266?s=20

4. Watch donkey rehabilitation in action.

Founded by hotelier Elisabeth Svendsen in 1969, The Donkey Sanctuary has cared for more than 14,500 abandoned and mistreated donkeys in the U.K. and Ireland. The nonprofit now operates from 10 different locations, including headquarters in the English seaside town of Sidmouth, which has seven live cams allowing you to watch donkeys as they graze and play.

5. Observe puffins in their natural habitat.

The tiny island of Burhou in the English Channel has no human residents, but is home to a bird sanctuary. The star attraction is a colony of puffins which you can watch via several live cams. Just be prepared for a bit of a wait if the weather’s wet and windy.

6. Chill out with some sea nettles.

California’s Monterey Bay Aquarium has an array of live cams offering glimpses of everything from cute sea otters to not-so-cute sharks. But watching its delicate sea nettles billowing in the water is especially soothing, so long as you can block out the fact they sting!

7. Swing by puppy playtime.

Warrior Canine Connection in Brookville, MD trains puppies to become service dogs for military veterans with PTSD. The center’s “puppy cam” lets you watch all the fun and games happening in the playroom, where puppies are introduced to new sights, sounds, and textures once they reach 3-4 weeks old.

8. Get to know an English badger family.

Essex Wildlife Trust has discreetly positioned a webcam in a badger sett that’s home to a male and female adult, four juveniles, and two newborn cubs. The nonprofit says the best time to observe the badgers is just before dusk local time – so about 4pm EST.

9. Start the day with an elephant herd.

Dublin Zoo runs several 24/7 webcams including this one offering a peek at Asian elephant matriarch Bernhardine and her growing family. You’re most likely to spot them around midday local time, or 7 am EST, so this livestream is definitely one for early risers.

https://twitter.com/DublinZoo/status/1244936741628280832?s=20

10. Get inspired by a pride of lions.

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C. offers livestreams of elephants, giant pandas, and naked mole-rats. But if you need some majestic inspiration ahead of a tricky day at work, why not tune into its impressive pride of lions?

What are your favorite animals to watch on livestream?

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By Nick Levine