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Hey Heidi! Saint Louis Zoo animals adjust to winter

7:08 AM, Dec 6, 2012   |    comments
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By Heidi Glaus

St. Louis (KSDK) -- Colder temperatures for you and me mean a heavier jacket, but what about the animals at the Saint Louis Zoo?

NewsChannel 5 viewer Angela wanted to know what happens to the stingrays, so NewsChannel 5's Heidi Glaus went to the zoo to find out about them and some of their neighbors.

It is one of the best zoos in the country. Ninety beautiful acres that 655 species of animals call home. Animals that tend to catch the attention of all ages and are from all over the world meaning some of these guys aren't exactly cut out for cold weather.

"We do bring flamingos in," explains Michael Macek, Curator of Birds.

Other animals we assume love teeth-chattering temperatures, but you know what they say about assume.

"Well the penguins inside like the winter. We keep the building at 45 degrees year round. These penguins (located outside) actually don't like the winter so much they come from Peru actually, the dessert coast of Peru," Macek says.

The water is always 45 degrees.

"So if it's really cold, like it's freezing, you'll find the birds mostly in the water cause the water is actually warmer than the air temperature," Macek adds.

Snow Leopards are more accustomed to winter-like weather and actually use their long tails to cover their body for warmth.

"A lot just depends on the species. Some animals are actually brought in for the winter time other animals are given supplemental heat or given an opportunity to go in or out depending on whether it feels a little cold to them or not," Macek explains.

If it's not too cold for you, colder months are actually a better time to see the animals in action.

The new tunnel that allows the sea lions to swim around you is even heated.

As for the stingrays at Caribbean Cove, well they don't technically belong to the zoo.

"We actually contract with a company called Living Exhibits they're located in Las Vegas, but this particular winter the stingrays actually went to Panama City, Florida so they're sort of snow birds they go some place warmer," Macek says.

They travel in contained aquariums in a big truck. The good news is they'll be traveling back to St. Louis the same way this April.



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