Paignton Zoo and Living Coasts are ready to face the cold snap.
Staff at the two Devon zoos, both registered charities, are making sure their animals are comfortable as forecasters predict a long spell of sub-zero temperatures.
Spokesperson Phil Knowling told the Devon Week: “A lot of species are very adaptable – you get cold nights even on the plains of Africa. Extra bedding is provided for species like bongos, giraffes and zebras. We make sure our animals have all the warmth and shelter they need.
“Some birds are moved indoors in anticipation of cold weather, others are moved if and when it comes. In cold weather the most important thing is to stop ice forming on water troughs and in the lakes. Mediterranean tortoises go into hibernation, but the giant tortoises will often choose to go outside in the winter. Some animals even like to sleep outside in cold weather.”
Exotic trees like date palms are wrapped up against the frost, but Crocodile Swamp remains at a balmy 28 degrees all year round, regardless of the weather.
Philip said: “This weather is probably hardest on the keepers, as the care, feeding and mucking-out of livestock goes on regardless, even when it’s freezing cold outside. Our Gardens Department has its own mini gritter to salt footpaths. Some older keepers remember past winters when they had to row around the lake to break up the ice.
“It’s a good time to visit both Paignton Zoo and Living Coasts. There are fewer people so it’s easier to get about and see things. The restaurants and shops are open all through the winter – we are open every day but Christmas Day. The plumage of the birds, especially the sea ducks at Living Coasts, is fantastic during the winter months.”
(from a press release)