Japanese zoos and aquariums temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic are providing encouragement to people at home under social-distancing measures by posting live images and videos of animals online.

Such efforts to connect with the public, including rare glimpses into areas of zoo and aquarium facilities not usually open to visitors, have been gaining in popularity, with some expressing gratitude for the comfort provided by animals even in a virtual format.

Osaka Tennoji Zoo in western Japan kicked off its first live-streamed program on April 19, with zookeepers showing viewers things like the preparation of food for the animals and the process of training rhinos. Some of the videos exceeded 10,000 total views.

The Osaka-based zoo said the effort led to positive exchanges between zookeepers and viewers, and it plans to launch a second round.

Adventure World in neighboring Wakayama Prefecture, which rears six giant pandas, streams live footage of pandas from 11 a.m. to noon every day the facility would normally be open.

Ueno Zoological Gardens in Tokyo also posts images of giant pandas frequently, with its official Twitter account winning over one million followers.

Toba Aquarium in Mie Prefecture, central Japan, says that people seem to be showing more interest in animals than in ordinary times. In the facility's recent call for internet users to suggest names for a newborn Baikal seal, over 7,000 submissions were received -- nearly four times the usual level.

"More and more people are watching the (online offerings) as they refrain from leaving the house, so I think it makes them more familiar with the aquarium" and its sea mammals, a staff member said.

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