Whether it’s meeting a psychedelic rock gecko, watching a tamandua roam, laughing at a porcupine scarf down a peanut butter treat, or catching a moment of Zen watching moon jellies float, you and your kids can enjoy all of that online. Zoos, aquariums, and more offer terrific online learning opportunities entertainment and fun. (No need to let the kiddos in on the fact that they’re learning something, right??) Add some wild—and educational—screen time for your kiddos by exploring the animal world from the comfort of home.
Confession: I didn’t even know what a tamandua was, but thanks to Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, I’ve now gotten up close and personal with one. When they couldn’t open, they began daily Facebook Lives featuring a variety of animals in the zoo. From the famous cutie pie hippo Fiona to cheetahs, elephants and more, they’re sharing inside peeks with animal trainers and their furry friends. The archived videos are available on the video tab of their Facebook page and on YouTube, so you don’t have to worry about tuning in at a certain time.
Their site also includes fun activities that tie into each of the animals they’ve profiled. Let your kids see how an armadillo’s tongue sucks up bugs, make a cheetah paw print and more. The activities are listed alphabetically by animal and all of the supplies you need are simple household items (extra points to the zoo for keeping it simple!).
Closer to home, San Antonio Zoo has animal videos, “Zoo It Yourself” at home activities, workout videos, and even yoga with the animals on its Facebook Videos page. And it’s where you’ll find the animal I swear I didn’t make up, the psychedelic rock gecko.
SeaWorld has a site with educational resources, including videos and even teacher toolboxes if you’d like to check out their animal lessons. Many of the lessons include videos—like a series of penguin videos—so it’s a great resource for animal learning. For older kids, SeaWorld features Animal Bytes, online facts and information about a variety of animals, and online Animal Books that allow you to learn more about each animal they feature. The information/reading level is probably more set to third grade and up, so keep that in mind if you’re encouraging your littles to check it out. Something all ages will love: Animal Sounds, where you can hear the call of different animals. If they have a book or byte on that animal, the link is included, so the Sounds page is a great place to start.
One of our favorite places to visit IRL, Texas State Aquarium, has virtual tours and a free Aquavision series of videos that take you behind the scenes with their animals. If you scroll to the bottom of that same link, you’ll find educational resources and activities, too. They also post fun videos on their social feeds, so check out their Facebook Videos page for shorter glimpses of their animals, including that moment of Zen with the moon jellies.
A bucket list spot for any animal lover, the San Diego Zoo also offers a variety of online animal fun, including live cams of koalas, elephants, polar bears, and giraffes. Their Mission Spring Break program, put together to help kids enjoy spring break in the midst of COVID-19, is a great round-up of activities and learning. Videos can be found on their Facebook Video page and they have a dedicated YouTube channel for their children’s videos.
Not to be outdone, for those who are into all things poop, the Shedd Aquarium has a video for you! Their “Sea Curious” series is a fun watch and covers a range of sea creatures and topics. The videos all answer questions about animals, like what do they do at night, and are really engaging. They’ve also launched “Stay Home with Shedd Aquarium“, with educational materials that accompany each video.
If you want to see an elephant doing a headstand (really!), check out the Houston Zoo’s Facebook Videos for series of behind the scenes videos and animal chats. The zoo also has live cams so you can check out what the animals are doing.
The Georgia Aquarium is offering a peek inside its aquariums for everyone to enjoy. You’ll find live webcams and Deep Sea Learning videos online. The website includes animal facts, study guides, activity sheets, and Friday Field Trips. Videos can be found on their Facebook Video page. And of course, the aquarium is the star of Animal Planet’s “The Aquarium”, which you can watch online.
Another zoo to explore virtually is the Philadelphia Zoo, with daily live videos on their Facebook Video page and an archive on their website. You can meet everything from rats to red pandas and more, including an armadillo, far from Texas. Their “Philly Zoo to You” program also includes educational activities and coloring sheets.
Getting wild online is guaranteed to make your little animal lovers smile. So take an online adventure of the furry or scaly kind and learn a little something along the way.