5 Virtual Animal Encounters to Give You Warm Fuzzies

Niki D'AndreaAugust 11, 2020
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Summertime at the zoo might be a distant memory for many people right now, but wildlife parks, aquariums and zoos around Arizona still have staff on site caring for the animals – and plenty of animals on virtual display. Here are five animal encounters you can enjoy from anywhere.

Zoom with Phoenix Zoo Animals
Why bother with such pedestrian meeting distractions as cats running across keyboards or children jumping on furniture when you can have a sloth hanging around or an owl giving a real hoot? The nonprofit Phoenix Zoo is raising funds during its COVID-19 closure by setting up 15-minute Zoom calls with some of its most popular residents, including Fernando the sloth, Lady the aardvark and a rhinoceros. Rates cost $150 for Lady, the owl or a mystery guest (could be a flamingo, porcupine, chameleon or tortoise), $200 for the “Rendezvous with a Rhino” and $250 for “Facetime with Fernando.” Reservations must be made at least 24 hours in advance at phoenixzoo.org.

Bearizona Wildlife Park
The drive-through Bearizona Wildlife Park meanders across three miles of the Ponderosa pine forest in Williams, Arizona, but those who can’t make the road trip can still keep up with the cubs via the live “Cub Cams” on the park’s website. The two cameras capture the grizzly cubs romping around and wrestling, and they seem to be especially active in the mornings. The zookeepers also host virtual happy hours on Facebook Live so people can keep up with the animals, which include not just bears but birds of prey, a cheetah, a jaguar, porcupines, big lizards and snakes, otters, foxes and wolves. New videos and photos are posted daily to the park’s Facebook page.

Out of Africa Wildlife Park
About 80 miles from Phoenix, just outside the tiny town of Camp Verde, Out of Africa Wildlife Park gives visitors a safari experience complete with lions, tigers, bears, giraffes, a rhino, a sloth, a camel and more. If it’s not possible to take a tour in person, meet the park’s animals on its website and stay in touch via videos and photos on the Out of Africa Wildlife Park Facebook page, where every Tuesday, there’s a “Keeper Takeover” with live video streams.

World Wildlife Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park
COVID-19 caused the temporary closure of World Wildlife Zoo, but the animals are still around – including a reticulated giraffe named Baby Jackie that was just born in March. Go behind the closed gates with zookeepers to see how the monkeys, lions, giraffes, bobcat cubs and more are staying busy on the zoo’s Facebook page.

OdySea Aquarium
OdySea Aquarium is now open with limited capacity. Would-be guests can get a glimpse of what to expect by exploring the galleries, live web cams and virtual encounters and tours on the facility’s website. The aquarium’s Facebook page also features some fun videos, like a feeding of their honeycomb moray eel.

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