Keepers battled through the snowdrifts to get to work early this morning to feed more than 1,300 hungry mouths.
Snow ploughs cleared paths and roadways to enclosures and limited access by vehicles forced staff to haul foodstuffs manually across the 40-acre hillside site. But after the initial three hour start-up it was business as usual and staff were ready to welcome visitors, including several Keeper For A Day experiences and a rank of amateur photographs keen to get snow shots of their favourite species. Head of Media and Communications, Jill Hitchman, said: “We always keep an eye on Met Office forecasts so staff alarm clocks were set very early this morning and by 7am there was a full workforce out on site. “Since the zoo opened in 1937 we have used manual labour to move food and bedding across the site in the snow and we have also ordered in extra stocks to ensure all the collection is fed if this weather continues.” She added: “As far as the animals are concerned it’s a love-hate moment; species like the tigers, red pandas, penguins and inevitably, snow leopards, love it while giraffes, meerkats and lemurs stay snug indoors with the heating turned up.” One of the first tasks on the upper level of the zoo was to smash through the frozen pools in Penguin Bay and part of the moat around the 11th century Dudley Castle that’s home to Patagonian sealions. Elsewhere additional heaters were laid on for meerkats and small primates and warm drinks made for big apes. Jill added: “It’s a huge, hilly site which is difficult to negotiate in icy conditions, but we always manage to get round it all and ensure every animal is fed.”
CAPTION: Snow means fun for two-year-old tigers! Keepers Adam Walker (left) and Jay Haywood built an enrichment snowman for Daseep (Sumatran) and Tschuna (Amur) but curiosity got the better of the big cats and it wasn’t long before their latest toy was demolished!