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Now that most trails and recreation facilities throughout Los Angeles and Orange Counties are closed to the public (this is why we can't have nice things), Southern Californians are jonesing to get close to nature. Until the coronavirus pandemic wanes, people will have to explore the outdoors vicariously -- through these live camera feeds.
Beach & City Cams
The Venice Beach Cam
This livecam has been capturing scenes from the Venice Beach Cafe since 1996. Viewers can control the camera in 30-second shifts, checking out the graffiti pit, skate park, beach and the surfers.
Huntington Beach Pier
Travel further down the coast with the click of your mouse to check out the eastern and western views from the pier, as well as cameras that face the beaches on either side. The cameras on this site are in HD, which makes for great viewing on a sunny day.
Ojai Valley Cam
For mountain lovers, the camera that overlooks the Ojai Valley Inn offers stunning views. Watch it at sunrise and sunset for immediate serenity.
For those who miss being out and about in Hollywood, this camera provides a view of Hollywood Boulevard facing the Dolby Theatre. Another rotating camera in HD provides a birds-eye view of Hollywood and Vine.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of animal livecams around the world, but we picked some of our favorites from zoos, aquariums, rescue organizations and nature preserves. Be forewarned: These animal cams are highly addictive.
Jellyfish: Monterey Bay Aquarium
The aquarium's hypnotic "Jelly Cam" is turned on from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. It lets you watch jellyfish as the undulat past the camera while a new agey soundtrack plays on a loop. The "Moon Jelly Cam," which runs until 7 p.m., is even more calming. The aquarium's other live cameras focus on sea otters, penguins and sharks.
Seabirds, Seals and Sea Lions: Farallon Islands
The California Academy of Sciences webcam of the Farallon Islands National Wildlife Refuge is located about 30 miles off the San Francisco Coast. Guests can control its camera for two minutes at a time, checking out views of the islands, ocean and all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge. We spotted about 10 seals chilling on the rocks as seagulls flew overhead.
Sharks and Penguins: Aquarium of the Pacific
View the Long Beach Aquarium's largest sharks as they swim in the big tank of the Shark Lagoon. It's serene to see the fishes swimming with the sharks but it's something else when the sharks come straight for the camera. Penguins are constantly moving and migratory, so capturing them on camera in the wild is spotty at best (except for this memorable video). Many zoos and aquariums have cameras trained on their penguins, including the Long Beach aquarium, because they're highly entertaining.
Koalas: San Diego Zoo
The zoo has 10 cameras on trained on owls, giraffes, elephants, tigers and other creatures but the koalas are the most mesmerizing. We watched the koala, above, just chilling and thinking about life. (Or maybe s/he was just napping? We couldn't tell.) The camera is HD so viewers can see the texture of the koala's fur.
Giant Pandas: CCRCGP Dujiangyan Base, China
This center is part of the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda (CCRCGP). Located in the Wolong Nature Reserve (Sichuan Province) in western China, the center has several cameras in different parts of the preserve. The best time to watch these pandas, however, is at night (in L.A.) because of the time difference.
Elephants: Tembe Elephant Park, South Africa
This camera is trained on the elephants' watering hole and we've caught at least one pachyderm every time we've looked. This park is located in Emangusi, South Africa, near the border of Mozambique. The camera is in HD and, best of all, the sound is live, too.
Naked Mole-rat: Smithsonian National Zoo
These mole-rats live in highly social organized structures, with a colony supporting a breeding female. They're not pretty, but their story is fascinating. The zoo offers two cameras trained on them: One is fixed on a food supply and the other is focused on a series of tunnels. The zoo also offers lion, panda and elephant cams, but the mole-rats win this race, hands down.
Bald Eagle Nest: Hanover, Penn.
Although the Big Bear Valley Bald Eagle Cam is still online, Jackie and Shadow (the eagles) lost their eggs recently to a few ravens, and haven't returned to their nest. However, we found a great camera from Hanover, Penn., with an eagle sitting in the nest every time we visited. (We're not sure if the one sitting in the freezing rain in the above screengrab is Liberty or Freedom.)
Puppies: Puppy Playroom at Warrior Canine Connection in Brookeville, Maryland
The Warrior Canine Connection teaches vets to train puppies -- mostly Golden and Labrador Retrievers -- to become service dogs for wounded soldiers. The puppies can be found in the playroom or whelping room. It doesn't matter which camera you pick, they all provide maximum cuteness.
Kittens: Kitten Rescue Sanctuary
Last but not least, it's time to watch kittens. The no-kill cat sanctuary in Atwater Village has a camera fixed on kitties taking catnaps and playing while they wait to be adopted.