No snow day blues where the animals roam

Philadelphia zoo lion in the snow last week
Tajiri, a three-year-old female lion, hangs out in the snow at the Philadelphia Zoo. Credit: Charles Mostoller/Metro

Heavy snowfall and freezing winds sent most Philadelphians indoors seeking out warm places to hide last week. But what about those of who live outdoors?

At the Philadelphia Zoo, adjusting to the dropping temperatures wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for zookeepers and wildlife staff. It helps that some animals actually like to be out in the cold.

“The polar bears were given full access to the outside, and they probably thoroughly enjoyed it,” said Kevin Murphy, general curator at the zoo.

“Some of our cold hardy cats were definitely out there enjoying that weather. Snow leopards are from the Himalayan mountains – they’re built for the ice and snow,” he added.

While these large animals enjoyed the weather, other, more vulnerable critters were kept safely inside.

Overall, “very few of our species had full access to the outdoors,” Murphy said.

Whenever there’s a question of whether larger animals can handle the cold or not, Murphy said his staff lets the animals themselves decide.

“Whenever theres’ a doubt and the animal is capable of making a choice, we give the animal the choice of going out in the situation,” Murphy said.

That’s part of the Philadelphia Zoo’s philosophy.

“We try to make choice part of an animal’s environment,” Murphy said.

One of the species that can generally take the cold well is the Zoo’s variety of bears.

“Polar bears, sloth bears, Asiatic black bears and the Andean bears would be given choice on certain days — they can choose to go in or out,” Murphy said.

Birds, reptiles and smaller mammals stayed indoors in heated environments.

But the creatures at the zoo who had the hardest time adjusting to the cold were humans, Murphy said.

Staff were responsible for digging path through some of the snow filled exhibits, both for some species to traverse and for humans to deliver them food and other needed treats.

“It’s challenging on staff to work in the weather,” he said. “They’re navigating the zoo on foot, going out in habitats and being outside.”

As far as managing the species, the zoo’s staff is mindful that zebras can be okay with cold weather – up to a point.

Some species of tortoise, like the Galapagos tortoise, won’t necessarily walk itself indoors when temperatures start to drop, and needs to be monitor.

Other creatures like flamingos have to be kept in indoors, heated environments as long as the weather is cold.

“Extreme cold or heat are challenging, but it’s not outside the majority of what we do everyday,” Murphy said. “It’s all about managing the animal’s environment.”
____________________

Follow Sam Newhouse on Twitter: @scnewhouse

Follow Metro Philadelphia on Twitter: @metrophilly

Follow Metro Philadelphia on Facebook: Metro Philadelphia



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Local

De Blasio, Bratton defend city's efforts after Eric…

Mayor Bill de Blasio justified the city's response to the death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died while in police custody earlier this month.

National

PHOTO: New Zealand Heral uses wrong image to…

The New Zealand Herald made a terrible mistake of using the wrong image to illustrate the tragic death of Staff Sergeant Guy Boyland – a New Zealand-born Israeli soldier who…

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.