If you spend hours scrolling through cat videos online, there is a scientific explanation for why this is a difficult habit: A new study found that watching footage of cute animals can lower your anxiety, blood pressure, and heart rate.
The study, carried out by the University of Leeds in the UK, Singapore Airlines and the Western Australia Tourism Agency, included videos of a quokka – a cuddly-looking wallaby from Australia that the internet has dubbed “the happiest animal in the world”. But footage of other wildlife can also evoke positive emotions like adoration, awe, and love, said Dacher Keltner, a professor of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley who studies how nature affects the human psyche. “We’re a visual species,” he said. “We get a lot of health and happiness from our relationship with the natural world.”
If you can’t get out into nature, let it come to you. The internet has dozens of pet foods from around the world that make you smile
Warrior Canine Connection
No dog? Kitten Rescue, a Los Angeles nonprofit, has live food in their nursery and in a private room where kittens and cats await adoption.
Smithsonians National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute
Check out one of the museum’s six live feeds to see black-footed ferrets, baby cheetahs, naked mole rats, lions, or elephants. Volunteers are not currently operating the cameras, so the animals may not always be visible. And while naked mole rats aren’t high on the cute animal list, watching them nibble on vegetables is still a pleasure.
Whether a gorilla is cute really depends on your point of view, but the footage from the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center, a sanctuary in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, might convince you. The rescued primates usually take naps or graze in the vegetation.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Fans of nature documentaries like the BBC series “Blue Planet” will want to tune into the underwater feeds of this California aquarium. Watch jellyfish swim delicately in and out of the frame, or enjoy the aquarium’s largest exhibit, an impressive 1 million gallon tank that is home to an array of marine animals such as stingrays, sharks and turtles. Each camera works on a different schedule. Check the website for details.
San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo operates live cameras from 10:30 am to 10:30 pm Eastern and retransmits the daily stream at night. There is something for everyone here: hippos, baboons, rhinos, tigers, giraffes and more. The zoo even lists the names and biographies of the nine elephants so you can get to know them while you watch.
Wolong Giant Panda Reserve
This breeding center in the Wolong National Nature Reserve in China has live food from pandas in 11 different farms. Switch between feeds to see the gentle giants playing together, lounging on logs, or eating bamboo.
Katmai National Park
If you’d prefer to admire animals in their natural habitats, this Alaska national park is home to around 2,000 brown bears, whose cameras capture them from different angles and in different locations. See them fish for salmon or swim in a river against the backdrop of breathtaking mountains.