31/01/2019

Zoo animals keep warm during cold spell

Our keepers are taking extra care to make sure their animals are kept warm and comfortable as temperatures drop.

A severe weather warning has been issued for Bristol and the South West this week, and while some zoo animals are well equipped for the current conditions, special care is being taken to make sure other animals are kept cosy.     

Lady Hilary and Chota, the Zoo’s red pandas, are happy to stay outside in the snow - this endangered species is native to the mountainous regions of Nepal and Southwest China and is well-equipped to deal with very cold weather. 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 when walking on snow.  

Bristol Zoo’s critically endangered lion-tailed macaque monkeys are notoriously inquisitive and enjoyed last year’s snow. They were even spotted making and eating snowballs!  

Meanwhile, our group of 11 meerkats tend to retreat into their heated indoor enclosures, as do the ring-tailed lemurs, the gibbons and our giant tortoises. These enclosures all have indoor viewing areas or large windows so our visitors can still enjoy seeing them at play and rest, even in chillier weather.   

Our family of gorillas are keeping warm inside their house, which is well equipped with underfloor heating and kept at a steady 24C. They and are given extra bedding - straw and wood wool - and more food by their keepers. This is because animals burn more calories in the cold.  

John Partridge, senior curator of animals at Bristol Zoo Gardens, said: “We ensure all of our animals are given plenty of extra bedding and the indoor enclosures are kept nice and warm so the cold spell won’t be a problem for them. I think it’s only really the keepers that might get chilly!”

Despite the weather, it’s business as usual at Bristol Zoo, which stays open every day, all year round, except on Christmas day and in very extreme weather conditions.

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