Henry Doorly Zoo prepares animals for dropping temps

Published: Feb. 11, 2021 at 11:40 AM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - When frigid temps hit the metro there is an entire team working around the clock at the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo making sure animals and guests are protected.

During a week like this one, you can see steam coming off the water at the sea lions exhibit showing just how cold it is.

“The return water can be warmed up to 65 degrees. So, not the temperature we would like to take a bath in but for the sea lions—they’ll be out cruising around,” said Dan Cassidy, Vice President of Animal Management.

Each species is unique. Every animal here has a team monitoring them 24/7 when temps drop, and they all have a heated indoor facility they can stay in for safety.

“Because it’s so cold a lot of the animals that would ordinarily be outside will have access. We call it access so the door will be open so they can choose to come or go. But some will be locked in, like the lions.”

But some animals may surprise you.

“The cheetahs from Africa, that you would think would only be in a warm climate, they’ll go outside almost every single day.”

They even have heated rocks inside their exhibit to keep them toasty.

And in the Asian Highlands, most animals will stay outside even on Sunday with an expected high of negative one.

“The snow leopard, the Siberian tiger, the takin, those guys will be outside no problem,” said Cassidy.

It’s not just the animals the team here has to worry about, though.

Leaders with the zoo say not many people brave the cold during a week like this one. But there is the occasional few.

“We do encourage them to spend some time indoors. We try to offer activities that make them want to go inside,” said Dennis Schnurbusch with the zoo.

The zoo has backup generators and extra heaters on standby if the power goes out.

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