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Jan 15, 2013 4:47 PM by Ryan Haarer

Reid Park Zoo handlers prep animals for chill

Two years ago, a similar freeze hit Tucson and lessons were learned.

"We are set up for some cool weather here at the reid park zoo... But when we get down to these temperatures there are some challenges that we have to meet," Reid Park Zoo curator Jim Schnormeier said.

Staff have been working crazy hours covering pipes and making sure the animals are warm
"A couple of the exhibits have had some major modifications for dealing with cold weather and that direction. we prioritize that with the animals living in there and their condition and age," he said
The aviaries have heat lamps, the jaguar exhibit has an enclosed den, and the giraffes are also getting some special treatment.

"We have some older female giraffes that we are concerned about. We did have heaters in there but they were by no means adequate for what standards are for today. So a brand new furnace was put in for the giraffes so they are now nice and toasty and warm."

Zookeepers have several goals: Keep the animals off of cold concrete and ice, make sure enclosures are warm enough and to make sure they have enough food ensuring extra calories to burn.
Some animals like these birds are taken out of the elements completely.

"We watch for birds that have large fleshy feet and things like that," Schnormeier said. "Frostbite is our big concern."

But the veterinarian is keeping a close eye on all of the animals. The park is confident they will make it through the rest of the cold nights comfortably but they're definitely looking forward to some warmer weather.

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