December 15, 2016
How do all the animals at the Utica Zoo stay warm in the winter? That is the question on everyone’s mind on a day when temperatures and wind chills are below zero degrees. The first question you should ask is: What country or region in the world does the animal originate from, and what is the climate like in that area? A good number of the Utica Zoo animals are actually used to adapting to cold temperatures and harsh environments. A factor that can impact this is if the animal is born right here in Utica, NY. For example, our African Lions were born in Utica and they are used to the fluctuating weather in our area. They love playing in the snow and have actually been found rolling rocks into large snowballs! (See video below) What else would you expect out of our BIG CATS? Utica Zoo animals have adaptations to the change with the season. California Sea Lions insulate themselves with extra blubber (Porter can weigh up to 600 pounds!), and a majority of animals have their diet increased so that they can grow a thicker coat of fur, add extra feathers, or gain winter weight.
So what about the animals that love the heat and can’t survive in the cold? Five of our African/Asian species stay inside all winter: striped hyena, serval, lemurs, chinese alligators and sulcata tortoises. Utica Zoo has heated buildings for animals than cannot easily adapt to the cold. Animals have access to these buildings at certain temperature levels. On top of being a heated building, the keeper staff will fill the rooms with plenty of hay. Hay acts as a great insulator, just like the insulation you would put between the walls in your home. Heat lamps, and heating pads are provided to animals who like it extra hot. Utica Zoo even has heated water bowls so that the water doesn’t freeze for animals like the Canada lynx that feel right at home in the snow. When we have multiple animals on exhibit, they will sometimes huddle together to share body heat.
Utica Zoo would like to thank their tremendous staff for braving the weather conditions to keep our animals safe and healthy!
“You got a ball?…a snowball?” Keeper Kristy
Posted by Utica Zoo on Thursday, February 11, 2016