Twitch may be a cesspool of toxicity and marginalization, but while it continues to contend with longstanding issues around harassment and recently was the target of a massive hack, it’s OK to remember that sometimes, good and beautiful things can be found on the platform, too. This week, the company introduced a new category that warms my heart: Animals, Aquariums, and Zoos, for all us animal lovers out there.
Streams focused on animals are not entirely new to Twitch—organizations like the Monterey Bay Aquarium have long had a home there—but this new category should make it much easier to find streams of adorable animals when you want them. And why wouldn’t you want them all the time? From sea otters doing sea otter things to ponds filled with ducks of all kinds, you can now easily watch a passel of animals from the comfort of your couch or, if you’re anything like me, a computer chair. It’s actually rather pleasant, and kind of like ASMR but with animals swimming and frolicking instead of a human being whispering at you!
In a blog post announcing the category, Twitch said that its debut is about more than just watching animals all day long. Animals, Aquariums, and Zoos is an effort by the company to “elevate the importance of environmental and conservation issues facing these critters of varying sizes and origins.” Climate change doesn’t just affect us humans, as evidenced by habitat disruption and animal extinction. To combat these problems—or to give them some much-needed attention, at the very least—Twitch is working with aquariums, animal non-profits, and zoos to highlight not just the issues plaguing our planet but also the ways viewers can help out.
There are various channels you can watch, as well as specific organizations Twitch highlights—like the Best Friends Animal Society—you can donate to.
And since channels are live, you can also interact with the animals too. This includes feeding some ducks (by spending Bits, the platform’s currency) or vibing with turtles (by adjusting the surrounding lights or changing the song).
Twitch has been in hot water all year long it seems, especially following a recent flurry of hate raids and a hack that unveiled some disheartening news. Things really came to a head when Twitch trended on Twitter in August under the #TwitchDoBetter campaign, which saw streamers of all sizes demanding the company implement much better tools to combat harassment. In response, Twitch introduced one method the community can employ while the company works on other tools: email and phone verification for Twitch chats.