A common concern among guests this time of year is, “What happens to the animals during cold or icy weather and how do they spend their time indoors?”
Whether it’s cold or stormy, animals at the Oklahoma City Zoo stay warm, cozy and safe when inclement weather strikes. All species have designated weather parameters that dictate when they need to stay inside. Those are one of the only times animals may be secured in their holding quarters. Modern animal care standards in place at the OKC Zoo give animals more choices and control within their habitats.
When the animals do have to remain inside, they may be able to spend one-on-one time with their caretakers, perhaps enjoy a quick training session or, in most cases, participate in enrichment activities that their keepers prepared for them to do on their own. For instance, the elephants have timed feeders throughout their habitats, including their heated barn. Our lions can often be seen lounging on the artificial, heated rock in their habitat that keeps them warm during cold days.
If we have a prolonged weather system that may keep animals inside for several days, caregivers may give them access outdoors for short periods of time to allow cleaning and exercise. However, wind factors will be considered and the animals will be monitored and brought back indoors at any sign of discomfort.
Fortunately, with Oklahoma weather, our animals spend the majority of the year outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air!
- Laura Bottaro, zoological curator, mammals