Temperatures are rising and options for entertainment are limited for families this summer due to social distancing measures. Many are turning to the simple pleasures of getting back to nature and learning more about the world around us. 

One of my “happy places” is the zoo. I grew up in central Illinois with a small zoo in my town and I thought for the longest time that every town had one. This summer I probably won’t make it to the St. Louis Zoo, so I have been checking in on the animals through their Live Web Cams. Each day different animals are featured on the rotating webcams. My favorites are the Penguin cam and Tuesday’s Rotating webcam where I can watch the Grizzly Bears and I can also watch the people watching the Grizzly Bears. 

Penguins at the St. Louis Zoo

I have found other nature webcams to follow as well.  The San Diego Zoo has several live webcams to watch koalas, apes, platypus, penguins, polar bears, rhinos, tigers, and a baby hippo!  The Smithsonian National Zoo has live streams to observe cheetah cubs, pandas, lions, ferrets and they have 2 cameras to watch naked mole rats. Seriously. Naked mole rats. Fascinating! 

Explore.org has links to nature webcams all over the world. You can go on an underwater adventure with sharks, tropical fish or manatees, explore the African plains, hang out with puppies and kittens, watch birds of all shapes and sizes, observe bees working in their hive,  relax on the beach or in the mountains and much more. There is even a live feed to watch the Aurora Borealis (Northern lights). Most of the feeds are live, but they also have highlight videos of many of the animals and landscapes. 

If you are ready to get out of the house, O’Fallon and the surrounding areas have some excellent nature trails to explore. Check out one of the Nature kits at the library and hike the trails at Rock Springs Park looking for bugs with the bug boxes and insect guides. Search for different types of trees and butterflies with the pamphlets and magnifying glass at Willoughby Farm in Collinsville. Visit geocaching.com and find some real life outdoor treasure hunts in the area. 


We also have plenty of great books and other resources to help you learn more about the natural world …

My Book of Rocks and Minerals

Animals: A Visual Encyclopedia


Ultimate Oceanpedia

Rocks, Crystals, & Minerals


… And so many more! Come check it out at the O’Fallon Public Library! Feel free to ask one our librarians for help with your nature adventure!

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