Keeping animals warm at Bristol Zoo Gardens

Keepers at Bristol Zoo Gardens are taking extra measures to make sure animals keep warm during the freezing weather.

Bristol is set for snow on Thursday and the sub-zero temperatures are expected to continue for days to come.

While some of Bristol Zoo’s animals are well equipped for the cold, special efforts have to be made for others.

The Zoo’s red pandas, Lady Hilary and Chota, are happy to stay outside, in fact they love the colder conditions.

They are native to the mountainous regions of Nepal and Southwest China and their fur is long and thick to protect against rain and cold.

They also have fur on the soles of their feet to help grip on wet branches and to keep them warm.

However, small primates, such as the Zoo’s squirrel monkeys and tamarins, need extra attention to ensure they are kept healthy and happy.

Keepers give them small amounts of peanut butter as a special fatty treat.

They also have specially heated indoor enclosures to keep them cosy and warm.

Bristol Zoo’s family of seven gorillas keep warm inside their house, which has under-floor heating, and are given extra bedding by their keepers.

Lynsey Bugg, curator of mammals at Bristol Zoo Gardens, said: “Many of our primates are from tropical climates and need temperatures around 22-24C (71-75F). These include our tamarins, gorillas and spider monkeys.

“Others such as crowned lemurs come from areas where temperatures drop a lot lower so we try and keep their house a bit cooler, around 18C (64F).

“Many of our other animals are provided with supplementary heaters at this time of year, such as our capybara, tapirs and warty pigs. They also get much bigger straw beds outside to help them snuggle in.”

But Lynsey said keepers still try to ensure that animals have access to the outside areas of their enclosures 24 hours a day.

She said when it is cold they do remain inside most of the time but they have the option of going out for fresh air and a wander around.

Lynsey said: “The only time we shut animals inside, particularly overnight, is if we have real concerns over their welfare.”

The Zoo’s birds also have access to heated sheds to help them during the winter months.

Richard Switzer, Bristol Zoo’s curator of birds, said: “Almost all our birds have free access to their heated sheds, which is where the majority of them roost for the night.

“But generally birds are tougher than they look – they fluff up their feathers to trap air for insulation, and hunker down to cover their feet.” 


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