Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! In honor of April’s status as Zoo and Aquarium Month, I’ve listed some of the best virtual zoos for you to explore. Virtual zoos are websites that are created to simulate a visit to a zoo. But instead of actual animals, the visitors to these sites can view photos and articles about animals and their habitats. Virtual zoo exhibits provide information and contribute to education with little if any impact to real animal life. Many existing zoos have developed their own virtual zoos, often using live webcams. The following virtual zoos offer quality educational content.
ARKive – A unique collection of thousands of videos, images, and fact-files illustrating the world’s animal species, prioritizing those species at most risk of extinction. Preserved and maintained for future generations, ARKive is making this key resource accessible to all, from scientists and conservationists to the general public and school children, via its award-winning website. ARKive can be used in a whole range of school science projects – from exploring the world’s most threatened habitats to discovering new species.
The Electronic Zoo – The first virtual zoo was created in 1994 by Ken Boschert, DVM. Boschert created his site as a way of informing people about animals and how to care for them.
ExZOOberance – Since 1999, the largest virtual zoo in the world with hundreds of your favorite animals. The animal pictures and animal facts are interesting and helpful for research projects. Parents, teachers, and kids of all ages love exZOOberance. You will find animals, including hard-to-find endangered species, roaming free on every page.
The National Zoo – You can take a virtual visit to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. any day of the week by tuning into their live animal web cams.
Pioneer Virtual Zoo – This virtual zoo contains animal exhibits created by the 7th graders of Pioneer Middle School – it’s a virtual zoo of animal facts by kids for kids!
San Diego Zoo – The kids section of the San Diego Zoo contains animal cams and videos.
Switcheroo Zoo – Switcheroo Zoo (a.k.a. Switch Zoo) started as a small project by simply playing around with the idea of making new animals by switching their parts. Today the site also features animal games, music performed using animal voices, a reference section, lesson plans, poetry, stories and artwork.
Virtual Zoo Toddler Activity – You don’t have to leave the house to see all those exotic animals! It is the modern day…use technology. This is a perfect activity for a rainy day or for those toddlers learning their animals. Seat your toddler on your lap in front of your computer. Then simply click on the play button for each animal.
Zoobooks Virtual Zoo – Zoobooks, the magazine series in which each issue contains facts about a specific animal or group of animals, has an online virtual zoo with interactive activities to help children enjoy learning about animals.