Polar bears, Canada. One of the world's best virtual online wildlife experiences
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The world’s best virtual wildlife experiences

Wildlife experiences are popular around the world – for many people, seeing animals in their natural habitats is a reason to travel in itself. From whale-watching to safari drives, gorilla-trekking to bird-spotting, there’s amazing wildlife to see whichever country you live in, and wherever you travel to.

But even when you can’t travel, inspirational online animal encounters are still possible, as long as you have internet access. Here are some of the best virtual wildlife experiences.

Amazing virtual animal experiences

Asian elephants – Thailand

Asian elephants are endangered, and it’s estimated that there are between 20,000 and 40,000 of them left in the wild. Some of these live in Thailand’s Khao Sok National Park, which is one of the world’s oldest rainforests, and is home to the Elephant Hills tented jungle camp.

As part of their Wildlife Monitoring Project, Elephant Hills has motion triggered cameras hidden in the jungle of Khao Sok National Park. They share camera trap footage online, including this amazing sequence of a herd of eight wild elephants, with two very young calves:

Bald eagles – USA

Bald eagles are native to North America and have a wingspan of up to two metres. Almost extinct at the end of the twentieth century, their population is now increasing.

You can watch bald eagles nesting in Iowa through the Raptor Resource Project’s live Birdcams here (although obviously what you can see depends on what time of day or night it is in Iowa, which is six hours behind the UK):

Brown bears – USA

Brown bears live in the mountains and forests of Asia, Europe and North America. Although they generally live alone, brown bears do gather at times to feed.

In the arctic wilderness of Alaska’s Katmai National Park, brown bears congregate at points along the rivers to catch migrating salmon each summer. You can watch bears fishing for salmon in Katmai National Park here.

Emperor penguins – Antarctica

The largest of all the penguin species is the emperor penguin. These flightless bird live in the Antarctic, where temperatures can drop to as low as minus 60°C. Because of the emperor penguins’ harsh environment, it’s rare for travellers to be able to see them.

This amazing footage of emperor penguins on their way between their nesting grounds and the sea was filmed on a trip with Lindblad Expeditions

Gray whales – Mexico

Gray whales can reach sizes of up to 15 metres long, and are known to travel distances of up to 12,000 miles to feed and breed. They’re a type of baleen whale, which means that they filter krill and small fish from the water through bristly plates in their mouths.

Gray whales feed in shallow waters close to the shore, and are known as friendly as they often approach boats. This video of gray whales was filmed from a boat in Baja California in Mexico:

Ospreys – Wales

Ospreys spend the winter in warm places such as Africa or South America, and then travel thousands of miles to nesting sites to breed.

A century ago ospreys were hunted to extinction in Britain. Now they’re protected and there are thought to be around 240 breeding pairs across the UK, including at the Cors Dyfi nature reserve in Wales.

You can watch the Cors Dyfi ospreys via the Dyfi Osprey Project live stream, which also features a beautiful Welsh landscape.

Polar bears – Canada

Polar bears spend most of their lives on Arctic sea ice and so are classed as sea mammals. They’re one of the world’s largest bear species – an adult male polar bear can be more than three metres tall when standing on its hind legs.

The best place in the world to see polar bears is around the town of Churchill in the Canadian province of Manitoba. There are an estimated 25,000 polar bears in the world, and around 500 of them roam within range of Churchill.

You can watch some amazing highlights from the polar bear cam in Cape Churchill in Wapusk National Park here.

The world's top virtual wildlife experiences online
Virtual wildlife experiences. Image copyright Travel Manitoba

Puffins – England

Puffins spend most of their lives out at sea, but return to land to breed. In spring and summer, thousands of puffins gather in island and coastal colonies and use their beaks and claws to dig out burrows for their nests.

You can watch puffins preparing for their breeding season in Northumberland in this video from the RSPB:

Safari – South Africa

WildEarth’s safariLIVE is a twice-daily live safari, broadcast directly from the South African wilderness. Safari guides, vehicles and remote cams all search for lions, leopards, cheetahs and other wildlife to share with viewers.

The daily Sunrise Safari starts at 06:00 local time (04:00 in the UK), and the Sunset Safari starts at 15:30 local time (14:30 in the UK). You can watch the live safaris here:

Silver-studded blue butterflies – England

The silver-studded blue is a beautiful and rare butterfly which lives in heathland and coastal habitats. When in flower, purple bell heather is a rich source of nectar for insects, including the silver-studded blue butterfly.

You can watch a silver-studded blue butterfly in the heather in the South Downs National Park here:

Your virtual wildlife experiences

What’s your most memorable wildlife encounter, virtual, online or otherwise?

Image copyright Travel Manitoba

If you enjoyed this, check out this post see some more wildlife across the world with these fantastic animal cams.

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