We get it. It's really, really cold out there — even for zoo animals.
Just how cold? In Chicago, the Lincoln Park Zoo polar bear, Anana, was kept inside on Monday, when record-low temperatures fell to -15 F. Zoo spokeswoman Sharon Dewar told the Associated Press that since Anana "doesn't have a thick layer of fat that bears typically get from eating things such as seals and whale carcasses," she was kept inside her climate-controlled habitat.
The temperature inside? A relatively balmy 40 F. Dewar said Anana would be allowed outside on Tuesday, when forecasters expect a high of 7 F.
At the Milwaukee County Zoo, Nama, the resident cheetah, was kept indoors on Monday out of fear that his foot pads would freeze to the ground.
"It's for his own benefit," Jessica Munson, Nama's keeper, told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
The zoo also moved its 12 Humboldt penguins inside because of the -4 F weather, and kept the elephants indoors "because their gigantic ears are easily susceptible to frostbite."
At the Detroit Zoo, the cold-weather animals — including polar bears, snow monkeys, wolverines, bison, Bactrian camels and Asian deer — were allowed to roam freely both inside and outside on Monday, but zoo officials said they would be keeping a close eye on those that ventured outdoors in the extreme cold.
"We’re watching the animals and ensuring what the animals need at all times, but in these extreme conditions we need to pay a little more attention," Scott Carter, the facility's chief life sciences officer, told MLive.com.
Temperatures in Detroit dipped to 13 degrees below zero on Monday night. Tuesday's forecast high for the Motor City: 2.
"The Asian wild horses were running around and being more active than I've seen them in a while," Carter added.
In New Bedford, Mass., officials at Buttonwood Zoo are monitoring the health of a 55-year-old elephant who escaped from her enclosure over the weekend and was exposed to zero-degree temperatures and subzero wind chills.
Zoo director Keith Lovett told the Standard-Times that the elephant was warmed with hot blankets and heaters and is being monitored for hypothermia and frostbite but is expected to be fine.
In Pittsburgh, Pa., the city's zoo and aquarium were forced to close because of the weather — but that was for the staff and visitors, not the animals.
- Living Nature
- Nature & Environment
- Lincoln Park Zoo