Keeping zoo animals warm in bitter wind chills - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Keeping zoo animals warm in bitter wind chills

The grizzly bears don't seem to mind being outside. (Source: WOIO) The grizzly bears don't seem to mind being outside. (Source: WOIO)
Tigers could also be found outside Thursday. (Source: WOIO) Tigers could also be found outside Thursday. (Source: WOIO)
Zoo employees make sure to have moving water available for all animals. (Source: WOIO) Zoo employees make sure to have moving water available for all animals. (Source: WOIO)
Kody and Cooper, North American grizzly bears at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, were out playing Thursday, oblivious to the subzero wind chills. The cold is certainly not a big story to the grizzlies, but in these bitter cold temps, the zoo makes accommodations, even for these winter lovers. 

"We go to great extents to make sure there's heated spaces, and some of our spaces even have heated floors," explained the zoo's animal curator, Travis Vineyard.
 
The Siberian tigers, much like the grizzlies, were out in the cold, showing very little interest in slipping inside. One of the tigers was even stretched out in a snow bank, taking a mid-morning nap. 

Vineyard was not surprised. 

"They have a sheltered space, but they prefer to be out here, where they are more comfortable," he said.
 
An incredibly high metabolism and winter coats are key adaptations in these wind chills. Another key component, according to Vineyard, is making sure the animals have all the food they need, which is critical as metabolism speeds up in the cold.

"It takes more energy to keep their body warm, so extra food is provided, so they can accomplish that," Vineyard said.
 
The zoo also uses water movers to ensure there is open water for the water fowl to drink and there are multiple pools of water that are warmed through heating elements in their concrete base.

There are many species of tropical animals at the zoo that cannot handle the cold, so they are all kept inside in warm habitats. 

As the zoo is open through the winter months, the most popular exhibit this time of year, of course, is the tropical rain forest, which is kept at a toasty 75 degrees.

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