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Chickens, and pigs, and goats, oh my! Visit a farm sanctuary in virtual reality

If you’re stuck in the big city and yearning for the rural life this summer, you can visit the countryside from the comfort of your couch instead.

Farm Sanctuary, a national nonprofit dedicated to rescuing and protecting farm animals from cruelty, teamed up with Condition One VR to film farm tours in virtual reality.

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“I think it is important for people to see these animals in a setting where they are happy and secure,” Susie Coston, Farm Sanctuary’s national shelter director, tells Digital Trends. Coston serves as the guide in the virtual tour, introducing viewers to the goats, pigs, sheep, chickens, and cows who seem endlessly interested in the 360 camera in their home.

You can experience the tour in VR through the YouTube app on Android and iPhones, and through the Condition One app in the Oculus Store. Or just watch it with 360-degree controls from your laptop.

In recent studies, VR has been shown to increase empathy, leading activists, journalists, and therapists to turn to the technology as a tool for eliciting stronger emotions from viewers. Although the Farm Sanctuary VR tour wasn’t modeled off of these studies, it approaches the projects in a similar vein.

“When we do have an opportunity to see farm animals, it is in a place where they are, even in the best conditions, under duress,” Coston says, suggesting that the idyllic, agrarian image of farm life has been overshadowed by the image of large-scale factory farming.

“We really wanted a way to bring the sanctuary to a broader audience so that those who cannot come and visit can get a chance to really see the animals and their lives at the farm,” she adds. “to see what we think should be the norm for all farm animals.”