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Beardsley Zoo keeps animals safe during arctic weather

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Over the past several days, Connecticut residents experienced some of the coldest weather ever seen in this part of the country. And while government officials continued to blitz the public with information about staying safe in the arctic temperatures, Beardsley Zoo made sure that their resident animals remained just as safe. According to Jim Knox, Curator of Education, the zoo’s staff is taking extra precautions to ensure that all the animals living at Connecticut’s only zoological park are warm.

Many animals living at the zoo are well adapted to cold temperatures, such as the Amur Tiger, Amur Leopard, and River Otter. Other animals, including birds of prey and alligators, may need special attention. In order to determine if an animal needs to be moved indoors, it all comes down to the individual animal’s needs to ensure happiness and well-being.

For example, on Tuesday, January 07, 2014, the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago announced that its resident polar bear, 12 year old Anana, was relocated to an indoor enclosure. This prompted humorous headlines from around the world about the temperature being too cold for a polar bear. However, wild polar bears thrive in the same arctic weather Connecticut has been experiencing. But Anana lives in captivity and lacks the essential thick layer of fat wild bears get from eating seals and whale carcasses. As a result, she was moved indoors as a precaution.

Officials at Beardsley Zoo have been no different in determining whether or not an animal should be moved indoors. The determining factor all comes down to the health and well-being of the animal and not just the cold weather. For example, many of the birds of prey living at Beardsley are rescue birds, some of which can be released back into the wild and others that will remain in captivity as ambassadors. According to Mr. Knox, birds that “are challenged” by the current weather conditions due to health reasons have been moved indoors and will be brought back outside once the temperatures have risen.

Surprisingly, the zoo’s alligator exhibit remains outside despite temperatures falling to the single digits. In the past, the reptiles would be moved indoors. But recently, the exhibit was upgraded to include a pool that remains at a constant temperature of 70 degrees; making Beardsley Zoo one of only a few zoos in this part of the country equipped to house alligators all year round. Therefore, despite the frigid cold weather, the alligators and turtles living at the exhibit are happy in their warm habitat.

According to Mr. Knox, Beardsley Zoo only “has the animals’ wellness in mind”. Other precautions that have been taken in order to ensure the well-being of all the animals are:

  • Increasing the amount of bedding and making sure it is always clean and dry
  • Installing supplemental heating sources
  • Providing ice free water sources and changing the water frequently so all animals have access to fresh water 24/7
  • Providing more food which helps the animals store heat
  • Provide constant wellness checks

If you are looking for something to do during the winter months, a visit to Beardsley Zoo is worth the trip. Please visit the zoo's website for more information on the animals and events.

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