Herd mentality: Golden Gate Park bison get a new livestream

Technicians enable a wireless connection to the bison paddock in Golden Gate Park. | Photo: Monkeybrains/Twitter
By Britta Shoot - Published on July 16, 2020.

Missing trips to the bison paddock at Golden Gate Park? If you're sheltering at home, you can now observe the massive, herbivorous ungulates on any device.

Thanks to a partnership with local internet service provider Monkeybrains, the paddock is now equipped with two cameras and a wireless connection to broadcast a livestream. Anyone — including those outside of San Francisco — can observe the park's all-female herd of 10 from a special park website.

"The bison paddock is one of the favorite destinations in the park," said SF Rec & Park general manager Phil Ginsburg in a statement. "Now we can open this amazing experience up to animal lovers, regardless of location." 

The bison cam is live. | Screenshot: Courtesy of SF Rec & Park

A representative from Monkeybrains said that the company began installing internet transmitters at the paddock in late May. It wasn't easy: maintaining the livestream requires a signal close and robust enough to pass under the park's lush tree canopy.

The small cameras transmitting a color video feed from the paddock are relatively unobtrusive. One is attached to the top of an existing birdhouse on the edge of the bison enclosure.

Five yearling bison joined the herd in March 2020. | Photo: James Watkins

If you haven't been by the paddock in a while, you'll also see some shaggy new faces. As part of Golden Gate Park's sesquicentennial celebration, five yearlings were added to the herd in March.

Rec & Park decided to add the bison cam as part of its work to bring some of April's canceled 150th-birthday celebration to the digital realm. 

The bison have been a park feature since 1892, when their enclosure was located on the eastern side of the park. They've lived in the current paddock since 1899. Here's a bit more on their history.

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