ZooTampa animals warm, bundled up for cold temperatures
TAMPA, Fla. – With temperatures dropping, most of the animals at ZooTampa will have places to warm up.
“The minute we hear about cold weather, we’ve already checked our heaters to make sure they are working,” Jason Green, ZooTampa’s senior director of animal care, said.
Green said when temperatures drop below 60 degrees fahrenheit, the doors to climate-controlled buildings open up, especially for the zoo’s popular tropical tortoises.
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“Their metabolism is somewhat dictated by the weather and the outside temperatures, so we want to put them in the optimal situation,” Green said.
For the tortoises’ taller neighbors, giraffes, zoo staff “winterize” their barn by wrapping it with tarps and piping in heat.
“It will help hold the heat in and act as a wind barrier,” Green said. “We’ll make sure the heat is coming from the bottom. We want to hit them about chest high, because we want to keep that core warm. That’s the most important part. Heat rises, so that will help keep the rest of that long neck nice and warm.”
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Elephants have heated barns, while animals in smaller enclosures will be covered up. Any remaining animal is either cold tolerant or will be brought inside until the temperatures rise.
Workers distribute more hay and bedding to many areas and may increase food portions to help the animals deal with the winter weather.
“In Florida, it never seems to just creep up on you, it sort of smacks you in the face, so we try and always be ready for this time year, to have those things ready and prepped,” Green said. “A month or so ago is when we got ready, expecting at some point in time, we’re going to have a cold front.”