Staying Warm when Temperatures Drop!
As the temperature continues dropping throughout the winter, we all pull out the essentials: gloves, hats, scarves, boots, and thick, heavy jackets. We fill our bellies with hot chocolate, tea, coffee, and warm soups and stews. As people, we know how to adapt our bodies to freezing temperatures, but what about the animals at the Edmonton Valley Zoo?
Some animals adapt to the cold naturally. Take, for instance, our seals. The northern fur seals have a thick, double-layered fur coat while harbour seals use their blubber to keep warm in the snow and icy water. Additionally, there are many ways animals will adapt in northern climates, such as changing activity levels, increasing their caloric intake, changing locations, growing thicker coats for the winter, and so much more. There is no end to the incredible nature of different animals.
However, some species do need a little bit of assistance once the colder weather really hits. Much like when humans curl up on the couch with blankets in front of the fireplace, some zoo species are moved to a warm indoor exhibit. As for animals that remain in their outdoor habitats, all have access to shelters to get out of the elements as they choose. These shelters will include extra bedding, and, if needed, added insulation and heaters. We switch to heated water dishes in the fall to make sure the animals’ fresh water sources don’t freeze. Some animals prefer a bit of cover and then there are our reindeer who often choose to sleep outside even when the temperatures hit -30’C! Brrrrrr!
Throughout the winter, calories burn quickly as your body is working harder to keep itself warm and our animals are no different, which means a higher calorie diet is needed to remain healthy. For the Takin herd and our other hoofstock species, they have a winter diet change that includes increased amounts of hay and grain. Other animals also have seasonal increases in their diets.
The Edmonton Valley Zoo is a special place year-round but it’s often a wonderful surprise to visitors who choose to come in the cooler weather. Many animals can be more active and visible such as the large carnivores, hoofstock, and even the red pandas!
Being a smaller zoo means that visitors can easily move between indoor and outdoor spaces. Winter at the zoo is usually quieter with less visitors, so it is a perfect time to come down and see the animals without as many crowds. Come dressed warm for the weather with good footwear and enjoy winter at the zoo with all these wonderful animals!