If you enjoyed the movie “Happy Feet,” you may be on a penguin kick right now. What’s more fun to watch than penguins? How about penguin cams? These are video cameras set up in zoos all over the world, showing live pictures or video of their penguin exhibits. There is even a live penguin cam in the Antarctic, claimed to be the first cam with penguins in the wild!
I have been compiling cam links to watch all over the world, ever since the famous “Trojan Room Coffee Pot” which was probably the first cam on the web. It was located at a university in England, and when I worked at a major computer manufacturer our initial explorations of the web in the mid-90’s using the Mosaic web browser led us to oddities like that. One of our team actually visited the coffee shrine on a trip to the UK during that time!
Now you can explore the world in all sorts of ways, from watching the traffic in some exotic country to virtual streetcorner-standing and underwater Amazon piranha feast spectating. Cameras are easy to install and run, there are even ones that have built-in webservers, so you will find lots of them at public institutions, but also lots of small, private ones, ones sponsored by news media, and promotional ones to give you more temptation to visit their city. My favorite cams, though, are always the penguins.
I had gathered a list of my favorite sites, but some folks in New Zealand have done me one better, so here is a link to their site. On it you will find sites in Denmark, Nebraska, England, Antarctica, California, Montreal, New York City, New Zealand and other locations. Googling “zoo web cam” or similar will yield many more, and there are lots of compilation sites which offer different types of cams around the world. If you are exploring, you can also try translating your search terms using Google or Altavista, so that you can find sites in other countries which are presented in non-English languages, for example, “pinguino” in Italian.
There is an art to zoo-cam viewing, depending on which site you visit. Most sites have live images, which means you have to keep up with world time. If it’s dark there, you probably won’t see anything. Like any zoo visit, patience pays off, so you might want to keep a connection for a while and see what develops. If you have less than a high-speed internet connection, you will still be able to see time-lapse photographs or some other presentation with you in mind. Some webcams offer controls to zoom and direct the camera, giving each web visitor a turn. Sometimes you might even see local zoo visitors! Finally, some sites will occasionally move and maintain the cams, resulting in their being unavailable. Just bookmark it and come back later, there are plenty more to see!
Zoo cams are a wonderful way to keep in touch with nature, add to your child’s (or your!) education, or just keep your spirits up, watching animals antics and behavior, feeding times, or just the relaxing sight of creatures sleeping in the noonday sun.
Here are some other animal cam websites, I hope you enjoy them and keep exploring the web for new ways to experience the wonders of nature!