Why Are Bear Cams So Magical? An Investigation

WIRED | 10/12/2018 | Emma Grey Ellis
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Her name is Bear 409—Beadnose to her fans—and she had been crowned Katmai National Park’s Fattest Bear of 2018. On Tuesday, she edged out her competition, Bear 747—an ursidae so rutund his belly nearly scrapes the ground—by 4,000 votes in an online competition. GIFs of her impressive transformation from svelte salmon snatcher to a half-ton furry orb earned tens of thousands of retweets and hundreds of thousands of likes. In short, Beadnose is more internet famous than you will ever be.

Katmai National Park’s bear cams are just one of approximately 16,000 nature-focused remote video feeds you can tune into across the web. These livestreams boast a relatively candid view of life in the wild, and have become increasingly prevalent as enthusiasts discover that netizens can’t get enough of peering at wildlife from the safe distance of their screens. The appeal is a cute form of escapism—akin to puppy cams or cat memes. But the organizations and services indulging us all by hosting them have another motive: Animal cams are good for the wildlife business.

Animal - Cam - Amazing - Fishcam - View

The first animal cam was the Amazing Fishcam, a view into a fishtank in the Netscape offices, which graced the internet in 1994. In the decades since, as webcam technology and access improved, the genre has exploded, giving us viral sensations from the Puppy Bowl to the long-pregnant April the Giraffe to the gleefully chubby Fiona the Hippo. Live feeds have even become selling points for doggie daycares, a form of viral marketing that also satisfies pup parents. Philosophers have proposed that these feeds foster a sense of connection between city-dwellers and nature, that watching animals play and sleep and reproduce and dart through the activities of animal life builds empathy and attachment in the human viewer, regardless of whether the animal is a bunny or a...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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