Zoo Animals-Coping With Winter Weather

Red Panda Winter in D.C.

For those of you who are reading this weeks’ blog and who live on or near the equator the subject matter is probably irrelevant, perhaps slightly interesting. For those of you reading this blog who live in the mid-latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere, well, just park this away until next June.

Okay, here we go. So, I am watching the news programs a few days ago and see the poor people of Buffalo, New York struggling through one of the worst snowstorms they have had in Buffalo this early in the season. Over a several day period last week they received over 6 feet of snow. A few days after the first lake-effect snowstorm roared through town they got hit again with another 3 feet of snow. That’s 108 inches of snow. Ouch!!

That portion of Buffalo that was hit hardest was paralyzed. How do ambulances get through? How do you go out shopping for food or medicine?

And my fertile imagination percolates and I am saying to myself, “…hey Fred, does Buffalo have a zoo and what are the poor animals doing to cope with this storm (they do have a zoo by the way: 300 Parkside Ave, Buffalo, NY 14214 (716) 837-3900)? How do the animals stay warm? How do they exercise? Do they get cabin fever from being cooped up?” And I projected even further, it’s not just Buffalo, how do all zoos in the Northern Hemisphere this time of  year and into December, January, February, handle the extreme cold conditions.

I then started to research the subject matter. I love research. And since I have written a book about zoo animals, see below folks, I had an idea what sources I should tap into to get some answers.

First of all, I was very surprised to find out that most zoos stay open the year round. Actually the staff seems more attentive to both the visitors and the inhabitants to zoos during this period of cold and snow. The animals require it and the people get more individual acknowledgement and treatment because there just aren’t that many people who sit around saying to themselves… “…ya know what, it’s 8 degrees above zero with three feet of snow on the ground, let’s go to the zoo.” But, there are people who actually do just that. I guess it’s the challenge of braving those conditions walking around in the open to find out how the animals are coping.

At home in winter we all seem to hunker down, turn up the thermostat, eat some hot meals and curl up in front of the telly, or TV as we call it here in the States, and maybe cuddle up with the ones we love. Guess what, the zoo animals do the same.

There are some animals like the Red Panda pictured above, lions, tigers and most mammals, who are equipped to handle the cold winter weather. Birds, insects and reptiles, not so much or not at all. Zoo animals who wander to their outside paddocks during summer months have a warm interior sanctuary at night. Those same inside homes are heated during the winter with staff making sure they are stimulated with new toys or challenges to keep them from getting restless.

Animals that do go outside are more active outside during the winter, moving just to keep warm. And zoo staff also notices they are more attentive to the human visitors who are fewer in number. Those fewer numbers makes them pay attention more and cues them to watch the behavior of the humans who are observing the behavior of the animals.

Animals such as Siberian Tigers or Leopards or Lions also have the luxury at most zoos of being able to lounge on manufactured rocks or ledges that are heated.

Birds mostly stay indoors during the winter. Reptiles definitely stay indoors.

Bottom line, depending on the animal species and their cold tolerance, there will be winter weather criteria that applies in most zoos around the world. And I think it is a wonderful time to visit the zoo. If you dress warm, take care not to slip on ice or snow, and duck into the reptile building to warm up, you will do just fine.

Finally, the Thanksgiving holiday is upon us next week and to all of my U.S. readers Happy Thanksgiving, with Christmas just around the corner.

And for all my readers to this blog I want to say thank you for checking in with me in ever increasing numbers. I hope my content and thoughts are of some value to you and they are at least mildly entertaining. I will keep you informed soon about my new podcast that I am working on now and some writing projects that are also currently in-work.

If you want more info on my zoo animal anthology book, please click on the book cover below. I’ve embedded a hyperlink that will take you directly to my Amazon Kindle page.

Till next time, bye.


Visit the Zoo, 12-Book Anthology, Your Guide To the Zoo Over 120 Animals Featured