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How to have fun virtually while you’re at home during the coronavirus

You don’t have to leave the house to visit the zoo, see a newly released movie or take a yoga class.
The Florida Aquarium's ring-tailed lemurs were the first stars of the daily Facebook Live videos the aquarium has started in the wake of its closure because of the coronavirus. The aquarium is among many places offering virtual experiences for fans holed up in their houses. [Tampa Bay Times (2014)]

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The call to isolate ourselves in the face of the coronavirus outbreak has fortunately come during a time of easily found virtual entertainment options. Zoos, museums and celebrities are all finding ways to entertain their fans online. Here are some of the options worth seeking out.

Go to the zoo or an aquarium

The Florida Aquarium has launched its first ever SEA-SPAN Facebook Live “to keep kids learning and adults entertained during these difficult times.” The first video featured their famous lemurs, Lulu, Remy and Annie. Visit the aquarium’s Facebook page at 10 a.m. daily. The aquarium will also post the SEA-SPAN sessions on its website and on YouTube so the shows can be watched on demand.

The San Diego Zoo has a large collection of virtual field trips at kids.sandiegozoo.org.

Cape May County Zoo launched a virtual school. Zookeepers are hosting virtual tours of the zoo Monday through Friday at 11:30 a.m. Zookeepers then answer questions in real time. Each session will highlight an animal and provide unique access to zookeepers.

Share your ideas

The city of Tampa has launched a new influencer marketing campaign, with the hashtag #HappyAtHomeTPA. The city asked Tampa Bay’s top creators to share activities to do while social distancing. To participate, simply tag #HappyAtHomeTPA and @cityoftampa in an Instagram Story. It had more than 100 posts on its first day, including an instructional video on how to do an in-home gel manicure, some drool-worthy pictures of takeout food and some yoga poses to try.

See a first-run movie

In a rare move, Universal announced that movie-watchers can rent The Hunt, The Invisible Man and Emma “on a wide variety of the most popular on-demand services” for $20 in the United States and the equivalent of that amount in markets outside the United States. On April 10, the day Trolls World Tour was supposed to be in theaters, Universal will let people rent that one at home as well.

Tour a museum

You can stay home and still explore some of Tampa Bay’s highlights. Take a virtual tour of the Dalí Museum while sitting on the couch. The museum’s website offers a virtual tour at thedali.org/virtual-tour/. The site takes you both inside the gallery as well as outside, where the museum maintains the Avant-garden.

According to Travel and Leisure, 12 famous museums are offering a way to tour them from your couch, including the Guggenheim in New York, the National Museum of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. See travelandleisure.com.

Also: Google’s Arts & Culture collection can take you on virtual tours of hundreds of museums around the world, from Japan’s Nagoya City Art Museum to Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. You can sort the collection alphabetically or view them on a map.

Josh Gad, the voice of Olaf in "Frozen," is reading children’s books on his Twitter feed @JoshGad every night. “Just trying to do my part and help keep you and your kids (somewhat) sane? See you tonight,” he tweeted recently. [MATT SAYLES | AP]

Story time

Josh Gad, the actor from Frozen and Beauty and the Beast, is reading children’s books on his Twitter feed @JoshGad every night. He began with reading Olivia Goes to Venice and has kept the trend going with The Day the Crayons Quit and The Giving Tree. “Just trying to do my part and help keep you and your kids (somewhat) sane? See you tonight,” he tweeted. He also is sharing some fun insight into his admiration for the books he is reading, and funny stories about his kids.

Get a workout

With gyms closed, a number of trainers and fitness centers are posting workouts online. Here are many ways to get your fitness on from home.

Take in some culture

Eight Ivy League schools are among those offering 450 free courses you can take online right now. FreeCodeCamp.org’s website makes it easy to sort though hundreds of courses available on multiple platforms.

You can download free coloring books from 113 museums at OpenCulture.com, a free cultural and educational website.

The MIZE Gallery in St. Petersburg is open by appointment only for the time being, and is reviewing its scheduled exhibits for the upcoming months. But all of its exhibits can be viewed online at chadmize.com.

Audible has bumped up its 30-day free trial to include three free audiobook titles (membership costs $14.95 per month). Not into subscribing? They’re also offering hundreds of free audiobooks for kids of all ages, in seven different languages.

The Metropolitan Opera may not be able to perform for live audiences right now, but that won’t stop its performers from putting on a show. The Met has launched a free live-stream series with a new opera offered up each night. Each stream will start at 7:30 p.m. on their respective days and remain active on the metopera.org home page for 20 hours. Performances can be streamed on the Met Opera on Demand streaming service and can be viewed on all Met Opera on Demand apps.

Children’s author Mo Willems (creator of the award-winning Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!) is live-streaming a doodle tutorial each weekday during the coronavirus outbreak. You can watch the doodle tutorials live at 1 p.m. on the Kennedy Center website.

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Tampa Bay Times coronavirus coverage

EVENT CANCELLATIONS: Get the latest updates on events planned in the Tampa Bay area in the coming weeks.

STORES REACT TO VIRUS: Some businesses adjust hours or announce temporary closings.

BE PREPARED: Guidelines for essentials to keep in your home should you have to stay inside.

STOCK UP YOUR PANTRY: Foods that should always be in your kitchen, for emergencies and everyday life.

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