San Diego’s live animal cams are your perfect in-home escape

From the San Diego Zoo's Conrad Prebys Africa Rocks exhibit, the stars of the Penguin Cam bring live-streaming fun to your stay-at-home life. Live cams from the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, the Helen Woodward Animal Center and other animal hot spots are a great source of entertainment during our coronavirus shutdown.
(K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Live cameras from the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park and Helen Woodward Center are a window on a comforting world


Penguins and puppies and apes, thank God.

As our days become one long blur of news-avoidance and stress-eating, our wardrobes are reduced to sweats and slippers, and we are feeling suddenly nostalgic for our morning commutes (Come back, 805 North! All is forgiven!), it is clear that we humans could use the viral equivalent of a hug and a vacation.

Ladies and gentlemen of shut-in San Diego, meet your animal rescuers.

African penguins. California condors. Burrowing owls and darting garibaldi. Thanks to the modern wonders of live-streaming animal cams, the timeless joys of bird-, kitten- and baby-goat watching are still within reach. From the San Diego Zoo’s state-of-the-art Africa Rocks exhibit to the cozy confines of the San Diego Cat Cafe, here is a look at a kingdom of cute that’s as close as your nearest mouse.

San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Whether you are looking for an instant shot of happy or a leisurely afternoon of Zen, the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park animal cams have a view for the mood you’re in. Or the mood you want to ditch as soon as possible.

Missing the crazy hustle and bustle of your former life? Check out the Conrad Prebys Africa Rocks’ Baboon Cam, where the multi-generational groups of Hamadryas baboons and Gelada monkeys are a reliable source of cheerful communal activity.

Need a spirit makeover? Click on the Penguin Cam, where jaunty African penguins are ready to swim, flap and waddle your indoor blues away.

If you’re in the market for comfort, go directly to the Koala Cam, where there is something very reassuring about the fact that no matter what is happening in the outside world, there will be a San Diego Zoo koala sleeping in the crook of a eucalyptus tree. And doesn’t a 24-hour power nap look pretty good right now?

And for a bracing dose of hope and perspective, drop in on the Safari Park’s Condor and Burrowing Owl cams. The Owl Cam captures life inside the off-exhibit breeding area, where two burrowing owl parents are currently tending to their eggs. As you watch them do their diligent duty, remember that the western burrowing owl is at risk of going extinct in San Diego County, and be grateful that San Diego Zoo Global’s Burrowing Owl Recovery Program is tackling that right now.

Meanwhile, on the Condor Cam, the residents of the off-exhibit California Condor Breeding Facility shake off the rain and bask majestically in the sun while serving as heartening symbols of resilience under fire. In 1982, only 22 California condors remained in the wild. Thanks to the California Condor Recovery Program, the population is now up to more than 500 birds, more than half of them living in the wild. Courage, everybody!

Helen Woodward Animal Center and the San Diego Cat Cafe,

They are closed to drop-in visitors, but the Helen Woodward Animal Center and the San Diego Cat Cafe are still in the adoption business. They are also available for your decompressing needs, courtesy of their live-streaming cameras.

The Helen Woodward Center is doing adoptions by appointment, but whether your are on the lookout for a new pet or just want to look into a cute fuzzy face, your new virtual friends await on the animal center’s Critter Cam. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, the cam showcases a revolving roster of adoptable kittens, cats, puppies and dogs, along with bunnies, guinea pigs and chickens from its stable of educational animal ambassadors. Nothing says, “Cheer up, people!” like an up-close look at a quivering bunny nose. Unless it’s baby-goat playdate.

Sadly, you can’t drop in on the San Diego Cat Cafe for a cup of locally roasted coffee and the chance to hang out with some adoptable cats. So until this happy downtown spot opens again, you can watch as a small crew of cats lounge, wander and climb in a colorful room stuffed with toys, nap spots and an impressive palm tree bed. To avoid a serious case of scratching-post envy, keep your own cat away from the screen. (San Diego Cat Cafe adoptions are handled through the Rescue House. Go to for information.)

Birch Aquarium at Scripps Kelp Cam
If your idea of a good aquatic time is the Roku screensaver, time to fire up the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Kelp Cam. The aquarium is closed to the public, but its 70,000-gallon Giant Kelp Tank is available for many hours of meditative viewing. And as you watch the neon-bright garibaldi dart around the leopard sharks and moray eels, you might feel your worries slipping out for a snack break.

They’ll be back, of course. But with virtual nature in your corner, at least you’ll have company.