When weather temperatures start dropping we always talk about bringing pets inside, but what about all the animals at the zoo? Cold nights take planning on the zoo's part.
Zoo staff has to keep a close eye on the weather forecast so they can make the best decisions for the animals.
"Ice is terrible. Everybody is locked in," said Cindy Pringer, Curator of Birds for the Birmingham Zoo.
Ice can cause problems, but believe it or not the animals do pretty well in cold temperatures. Flamingos, for example, don't mind the chilly weather and would probably stay out all night if the staff would let them. The flamingos, as well as most of the birds, are put inside for the night.
"We have to make sure all of the heat lamps are working and also we have heat mats that they can get on if they need to, make sure all of our heaters are in good operational order," Pringer said.
When it comes to the elephants, the staff lets them come and go as they please. They can go inside their heated barn with heated floors or stay out in the cool night air. The main thing elephant keepers have to keep an eye out for during the winter is the elephants' skin.
"You'll notice they're a little bit darker skin in some spots, that's the mineral oil we rub on them. They get dry and flakey skin in the winter like us," elephant keeper Bridget Beury said.
But there is one animal who couldn't be happier about the cold weather and that's the sea lions.
"This is actually the best time to come and see the sea lion," said Tammy Morano, Zoological Manager of Sea Lions. "In the summer when we have our shows, it's actually one of the hardest times to work with them cause it's warm and they just want to float in the pool and relax."
Morano says they will feed the sea lions fattier foods to help bulk them up, but other than that it's business as usual.
Pringer says the cold weather is actually harder on the staff than it is the animals.
"There have been several nights the staff has to stay out here overnight," said Pringer. "Animals need care every day. We work Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Years. When most people are off, it's just a regular day for animal people."
The staff says winter is one of the best times to come check out the zoo since there aren't a lot of crowds.
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