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Environment


Even the cold-weather fans at Ohio zoos have to make concessions
Zoos in Cleveland, Akron and Toledo close as temperatures head below zero.
by WKSU's MARK URYCKI


Reporter
Mark Urycki
 
A grizzly cub at the Akron Zoo was enjoying the gentle snow just before the bitter cold set in.
Courtesy of Akron Zoo.
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In The Region:
You know it’s cold when ski resorts have to close.  Today’s wind-chills are low enough to be dangerous for customers and employees alike. Even fur coats don’t help much as WKSU’s Mark Urycki reports the Toledo Zoo, the Akron Zoo, and the Cleveland Zoo have all closed until Wednesday.
LISTEN: Too cold at the zoo

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Even the penguins at the Akron Zoo are staying indoors. Others are staying at least partly out of sight, so for the sake of visitors who may have a tough go of it, the zoos are closing down.The Akron’s Zoo’s David Barnhardt says the American bald eagles have been given a temporary wind break to help out, but most of their neighbors in the new Grizzly Ridge section can handle the cold.

"Some of them are native to this area like the grizzly bears, and the red wolves, the otters. So they should be fine. We'll continue to check on them and to make sure.
"But some of the other animals like the penguins, that a lot of people think can handle the cold well, they're actually from South America. They're warmer, mild-temperature penguins so we going to go ahead and move those guys off exhibit."

In their element
Barnhardt says the Himalayan snow leopards are enjoying this kind of weather. And Sue Allen of the Cleveland Zoo says some of the animals in the section called Northern Trek are also out and about.

"That would be the bears, the tigers and wolves. The seals and sea lions are actually swimming. ... They're really adapted towards frigid temperatures."

Allen says  tropical animals are in heated enclosures and even visitors stand inside to watch them. And other animals have been given extra bedding to stay warm  

"The animals that are outdoors do have indoor access as well ... so they have indoor shelter so they can get out of the elements if they choose. "

Close attention to water
Keepers are paying extra attention to that and in Akron they have heated bowls to make sure water doesn’t freeze. But it’s still hard not to think of the classic Nick Park animated short film “Creature Comforts.” Animals at an English zoo were interviewed about their home, including a jaguar from Brazil who longs for his tropical homeland. 

Says Barnhardt: "The jaguars we have are from South America and they certainly will not go outside the next couple days. Even the lions and tigers -- they have temp limits." 

Barnhardt notes the Akron Zoo has backup generators in case of electricity outages so it can keep fish tanks powered.

And when the Cleveland Zoo reopens, if anyone wants to dream of warmer climes, they can visit the Rain Forest exhibit where it’s 80 degrees and humid year round. 

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