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Surprising ways animals at the St. Louis Zoo stay warm in winter

Here's how takins, pinnipeds, and penguins handle winter naturally.

ST. LOUIS — It's the time of year when we humans turn up the heat inside and bundle up to go outside, but not all animals are like us. 

There are hundreds of creatures at the St. Louis Zoo, some are more adapted to winter than others. There is only one animal in the red rocks section of the zoo that doesn't need a heated barn. 

Christy Poelker cares for the zoo's takin, a golden furry animal that looks like a mix between a cow and a sheep. 

"They have a really long nose which heats up the air before it gets to their lungs so they don't burn a lot of energy just trying to stay warm," says Poelker.

The takin are so well adapted to winter weather, they don't need heat in their barn and when it is snowing you can usually find them outside taking it all in. 

Human noses aren't long enough for that unique way to stay warm, but there is another species at the zoo which shares a bundling up technique with us.

"So obviously the sea lions and seals aren't going to wear any coats or hats or anything," pinniped keeper Valerie Olstead tells 5 On Your Side. "But by getting more fish over the wintertime they build up that nice thick blubber layer, which is that layer of fat right underneath the skin that helps to insulate them and keep them warm."

Some animals need more than just a feast to stay warm, and this one might surprise you, the Humbolt penguins. 

"Our winters here are slightly colder than what they would have in Peru," Marija Elden the Zoological Manager of Birds explains. "So what we are able to do is provide them with just a little bit of heat when they are in their habitat, our vents blow warm air at them, if they want to they can come and stand in the vents and we also give them the choice to come inside."

While not all animals can be like takin and are made for winter, others like the seals and some penguins are more like us humans than we would expect.

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