Zoo animals stay warm year-round

Zoo animals stay warm year-round
Photo provided by staff.
All About Animals
Tuesday, January 7, 2014 - 3:30pm

We have another cold night ahead of us, and everyone's double checking to make sure they're ready for it. However, what about the zoo animals who aren't used to these frigid temperatures at all?

Temperatures will be in the lower 20s Tuesday night. Of course, here in Louisiana, we're not used to seeing temps that low, but for BREC Baton Rouge Zoo officials, they're ready for anything.

"Nope. Nothing extra. Nothing special. There's no difference between 20 degrees and 40 degrees, as far as what we do with the animals," Sam Winslow, assistant director of BREC Baton Rouge Zoo, said. "Before coming into the winter, we have the electricians come out and check all of our heaters to make sure they're all in good order and all the animals that require heat, have heated night quarters they can go in at night anyway."

The giraffes are doing just fine out here. They adapt pretty quickly, but the zoo still has special accommodations for the animals who might not be able to handle these temps.

"Part of their normal routine that they do year round, they'll come in places where we feed them that have inside quarters that are protected, whether it be a storm at night or cold weather," Winslow said. "Those rooms have heaters in them that they have access to."

Every night, zoo employees will put the animals who need a little extra warmth in a special room with a heater. For animals like the tigers, who have enough fur keep warm, they still have a special heating area where they can warm.

"So they might come down and lay down here, like a house cat would get on the top of the hood of your car when it's warm. As you can see our tigers are out walking around, so they like it," Winslow said.

So the animals stay pretty comfortable, but for some of their tropical plants... not so much.

"The main thing that's suffering is the vegetation. We have a lot of tropical vegetation , and a lot of it is going to get froze-back, but it's established so it's going to come back in the spring," Winslow said.

Aside from problems with the plants in cold weather, another problem the zoo faces is a lack of visitors.

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