As winter progresses, Zookeepers have been busy checking on shelter and equipment in preparation for chillier and wetter days. The animals at the Zoo live outside year round (with the exception of those in the Reptile House). They are acclimated to the fluctuating highs and lows of the Sacramento Valley, much like you and me. Although some species love the winter or even naturally live in this area, all our animals are given the option of shelter and weatherizing.
Some examples of the Zoo’s winter preparations:
- Supplying heat in various forms: forced air heat inside the giraffe barn and ape house, quartz heaters in hoof stock
barns and various other mammal den areas, radiant heaters, heat bulbs and ceramic heat emitting devices
- Installing wind breaks for the birds along the sides of exhibits and overhead shelter in aviaries
- Providing heavier bedding (straw, and/or shavings, coffee sacks, nesting materials) for hoofstock, primate, and some mammal species
- Allowing ready access to den areas in inclement weather
It’s not a matter of simply providing these options to animals, but how they are provided. Care needs to be taken to not overheat an animal space (making an animal’s ability to stay acclimated challenging) and to keep heating devices far enough away from animals. Some individuals may try to eat certain bedding, so a keepers’ knowledge of the animals under their care is very important. In addition, there has to be enough shelter and/or heat for the number of animals in an
exhibit, so all the individuals can rest and be comfortably dry and warm. Some changes are even made in animal routines. The most notable change is that the giraffe herd is kept inside the barn overnight during the winter months.
No matter what the ambient conditions – 110 and dry or frosty and 20 degrees – the keepers are always changing equipment or products to fit the needs of the Zoo’s over 500 residents. Make sure your pets are also ready for the changing seasons!