Google Street View Explores World Zoos, Animal Parks

Google Street View for the first time is taking online visitors into some of the world's most intriguing zoos and wildlife parks to see animals through its detailed photographs.

Google has been taking its 360-degree, high-quality Street View cameras into some of the world's most spectacular zoos and wildlife parks in recent months so that online viewers can see a wide assortment of wild animals from around the world right on their own computers and mobile devices.

"Animal-lovers, rejoice!" wrote Deanna Yick, the Street View program manager, in an Aug. 21 post on the Google Lat Long Blog. "If you enjoy watching wildlife, but find yourself stuck in the urban jungle, never fear. You can now use Google Maps and Street View to preview the must-see spots at zoos around the world before heading there in person, or take a virtual trip to some of the most famous zoos and animal parks, right from your living room."

Using Street View, online visitors can now see panda bears eating bamboo plants and tumbling around the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China, where more than 30 percent of this endangered species lives in a conservation and breeding facility, wrote Yick. The facility is also home for other animals, including the smaller red panda.

The new Street View images also include other animal parks around the world, including the San Diego Zoo, as well as zoos in Houston, Atlanta and Chicago in North America, wrote Yick. "You can also explore the Chapultepec Zoo in Mexico, and the Toronto Zoo and Jungle Cat World Wildlife Park in Ontario, Canada."

Newly added to the Street View animal and zoo image collections are the Buin Zoo in Chile and Zoologico de Bauru in Brazil, both in South America, wrote Yick. "And still more exotic animals await your virtual discovery on the other side of the globe. Check out tigers and kangaroos at the Shou Shan Zoo in Taiwan, polar bears and penguins at the Asahiyama Zoo in Japan, the world's largest captive colony of orangutans at the Singapore Zoo, and giraffes, chimpanzees and even Asian elephants at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia."

For online visitors who want to see white lions and tigers, you can peruse the Street View images of the Zoo Safari Park Stukenbrock in Germany, and also virtually visit Tierpark Hagenbeck, which is known as the first zoo to simulate natural habitats by using open enclosures surrounded by moats instead of cages, wrote Yick." These animal parks join others already available on Google Maps, such as the Zoo Aquarium de Madrid and Parc Zoologic de Barcelona in Spain, La Ferme aux Crocodiles in France, Olmense Zoo in Belgium and Whipsnade Zoo in the U.K.."

Google is always busy expanding its 6-year-old Street View collection of images from the world's most amazing places. In July, Google Street View cameras captured fun images inside the Harry Potter Studio in London to give viewers an inside tour of the world of the popular book and movie character. The images cover a portion of the inner sanctum of the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, where the sets and scenery from the beloved Harry Potter films are on display for visitors in real life, from the inside of The Great Hall to the oft-seen cobblestones of Diagon Alley, where Harry and his friends began their adventures.

Now instead of jetting off to London, Harry Potter fans can explore part of that Studio Tour—the infamous Diagon Alley marketplace—using the 360-degree views and full-color imagery provided by Street View for their virtual tour.

In June, Google unveiled the collection's first-ever photographic contributions taken in the Arab world and from the top of the world's tallest skyscraper, Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The images at Burj Khalifa allow online visitors to get a taste of what it is like to stand on top of the tallest building in the world, according to Google. The images are the first time Google has captured skyscraper images using Street View. In the new images, virtual visitors can experience the view from the highest occupied floor in the world on the building's 163rd floor, and they can also experience being in the fastest-moving elevators in the world, which operate at 22 mph. Visitors can even see the highest swimming pool in the world on the 76th floor.