Chehaw animals adjust to cold

Photo by Avan Clark

Photo by Avan Clark

ALBANY -- People are not the only Albany residents enduring the frigid temperatures; the scaled, feathered and furry exotic animals of Chehaw's animal park are also adapting to the unusual cold snap.

Chehaw Curator Jan Thompson said that most of the park's animals are doing well despite the cold.

"They have been fine," she said. "We have made sure all of our heaters are working and that the animals have warm, dry bedding."

Thompson said that many of the hoofed animals such as rhinos, elephants and the bison are not significantly effected by cold weather.

"The bison love it," she said. "A lot of the animals in the park are pretty hardy and are very tolerant of cold weather."

Extra precautions have been taken for the flamingos, who have been moved indoors to a building located near their habitat.

"That's the biggest move," said Thompson. "They (the flamingos) have been handling the lows pretty well, but since the temperatures are supposed to drop to the teens we thought that it might be safer to bring them indoors."

Flamingos are usually accustomed to standing in cold waters for hours at a time searching for food, however Thompson said that the chance for sleet or icy rains have also prompted the move.

Thompson said zookeepers have been working hard to make sure heaters and shelters are in working order for the animals.

"Visitors to the zoo may or may not see as many animals out and about in the morning because of the cold," she said. "They can choose to go out into their exhibits or not."

Alligators, the only reptiles in the zoo who have an open exhibit, will be fine with the cold temperatures.

"Alligators have the ability to lower their metabolism so they do not need warmth," said Thompson. "They can also go down to the bottom of the pond where the water will be warmer."

Thompson said that during normal winters, zookeepers do not have to change the diet of the animals. This year, zookeepers are allowing the rhinos access to more hay.

"The rhinos' appetite is up," she said. "So we are giving them all they hay they want."