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
Local

Mayor announces public housing improvements

Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the Lincoln Houses in East Harlem on Wednesday, calling for the scaffolding to come down at NYCHA complexes across…

National

Peter Theo Curtis: American released by Syrian militants…

An American writer freed this week from two years in the captivity of insurgents in Syria spoke briefly outside his family's Cambridge home Wednesday of…

Local

Bratton defends 'broken windows' work as NYPD support…

Sixty percent of those polled said they support the "broken windows" theory approach popularized by Commissioner Bratton since his first term in the 1990s.

Local

Transit changes for Labor Day weekend

The MTA is adding additional service Friday for New Yorkers getting out of the city for the long weekend. On Friday, Aug. 29, 27 additional…

Television

'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Season…

Season 11’s top four dancers gave their final performances before America’s Favorite Dancers are announced next week.

Going Out

Things to do this week in NYC, Aug.…

MUSIC The Electric Zoo Festival Aug. 29-31, 1 p.m. Randall’s Island Park $99-$369, www.electriczoofestival.com The electronic music celebration returns for a fifth year, with 150,000 attendees…

Going Out

5 things to do this weekend in NYC

The Electric Zoo Festival Aug. 29-31, 1 p.m. Randall’s Island Park $99-$369, www.electriczoofestival.com The electronic music celebration returns for a fifth year, with 150,000 attendees expected. David Guetta,…

Television

'Full House' might be relaunched with some of…

A new "Full House" might be in the works.

NFL

Mario Manningham on the bubble as Giants play…

Former Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham hopes his second go-around with Big Blue doesn’t end with Saturday’s final cut day.

NFL

Source: Stephen Hill 'faces a battle' to make…

A team source says Stephen Hill, who has battled injuries and poor performances during his first two years, is no lock to make the Jets’ final roster.

Sports

Serena Williams leaving legacy of talented American women…

It seems only a matter of when, not if, Serena Williams will win her 18th career grand slam championship.

College

When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…

Sex

The 10 types of people you meet online

Does it ever seem like online dating profiles tend to get a little repetitive? It turns out you are not the only one to have…

Home

Labor Day essentials

Whether you’re soaking up the sun on the beach or barbecuing in the park here are some must-haves for your end-of-summer bash.