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Snow ideal for some animals at Sedgwick County Zoo

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, Feb. 25, 2013, at 7:20 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, at 10:03 a.m.

Photos

Penguins catching snowflakes

The flamingos, not so much.

But the Amur leopards? They love the snow that’s blanketed the Sedgwick County Zoo, rolling around and frolicking in the fluffy stuff.

The zoo remained open Monday despite the weather, just as it did last week when many people hunkered down at home to work or enjoy a day off from school.

“We do have a wonderful maintenance crew and horticulture crew who were here very early to clear pathways,” spokeswoman Melissa Graham said Monday. “I see a Bobcat out there shoveling snow. A four-wheeled Bobcat, I should say, not a furry-tailed version.”

The zoo moves some of its animals inside during cold, snowy weather, Graham said.

The flamingos, for example, get special treatment. And so do some of the birds in the Asian forest area.

“By and large, everyone has a place to go and hang out in this kind of weather,” Graham said.

Humboldt penguin chicks experienced their first snow earlier this year. A video from New Year’s Day shows them catching snowflakes with their beaks.

The zoo keeps its elephants, rhinos and zebras inside when the temperature gets below 40 degrees, said zoo director Mark Reed.

“Elephants take a long, long time to get cold, but if they do, it takes a long, long time to warm them up.” Reed said. “If it gets to a certain temperature, we’ll bring them in. But we don’t want them having cabin fever too.”

The zoo’s wallaroos have a heated floor in their barn.

“They’re free to go back and forth, but they’re smart enough to know where to go where it’s warm,” Reed said.

The Amur tigers and Amur leopards enjoy the snow. Their range in the wild is the Russian Far East and northern China.

“This is mild compared to what they take in the wild,” Reed said. “Our bison and elk are the same story.”

Graham said the zoo had attracted about 11 people as of 1:30 p.m. Monday.

“It’s always so beautiful in the snow,” she said. “It always seems like everything’s more quiet, and you get to hear the crunch of the snow. But you sort of really have to want it.”

Reach Deb Gruver at 316-268-6400 or dgruver@wichitaeagle.com.

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