Beating the winter chill

Keepers are taking extra measures during the chilly weather to make sure our rare and exotic collection is kept warm – but there’s always one who wants to play in the white stuff!

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Steve Weaver snapped Bornean orang utan Benji collecting the snow to eat!

Food and drink is made with hot water and eyes are firmly on the temperature gauges in many of the animal houses, with additional heat lamps brought in if the temperature takes a sudden drop.

Ungulates Section Leader, Jay Haywood, said: “A lot of the indoor dens are heated and insulated, so we make sure they’re all kept at a constant temperature of around 22 degrees during the winter months.

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“When it drops cold and we have snow flurries like this weekend, then we do keep some of the animals inside.

“Species like the tortoise, parma wallabies and our giraffes have remained indoors over the last few days and we’re constantly monitoring the heating across the site in case we need to adjust it.”

Elsewhere across the 40 acre zoo site great apes, tigers, tapirs, birds, primates and meerkats all enjoy their heated dens and heat lamps and are protected against the cold.

Upper Primates Section Leader, Pat Stevens, said: “The weather dictates if we keep some of the primates in or not, especially with snow fall and temperature.

“We have to be careful with our lemurs as they could get frostbite, so we do keep them indoors if it’s very cold or snowy, likewise the apes and other small primates.”

But it doesn’t matter how hard the keepers try at keeping the animals warm – some still want to go and play out in the cold. 

Pat added: “We’ve been giving the orang utans squash made up with hot water to warm them up, but they’ve been going outside and making up snowballs from the flurries on their climbing frame and taking it back inside to eat, which sort of defeats our object!”

Watch a short video of Benji collecting his snow below, taken by Steve Weaver!