Santa Fe College Zoo Prepares For Freezing Temperatures
GAINESVILLE - We humans aren't the only ones being affected by the cold weather. While we have the option to bundle up-- not everyone does. A local zoo in North Central Florida is also taking extra steps to keep their animals safe.
The Santa Fe College Zoo has more than 250 animals. That’s why the zookeepers I talked to today tell me how important it is to keep these critically endangered species warm during the recent freezing temperatures.
Amber Sutton a student zookeeper said, "I know down south, they worry a lot that the iguanas will actually drop out of the trees because it's so cold." While it won't be raining iguanas here-- zookeepers are concerned about the animals at the Santa Fe College Zoo.
The zoo is filled with Gopher Tortoises, White Handed Gibbons and Lemurs among many other animals. "I mean I am working with critically endangered species... That are extinct in the wild. How often do you actually get to put your hands on them," Sutton said.
The students at the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo Program understand how important it is to conserve them especially during these freezing temperatures. "I think it's the hands on experience and the direction that our professors give us. They let us actually do things. They teach us but they let us do it... So it's a really good experience," Brooke Kramer another student zookeeper said.
One of the things they've been doing as part of their program is helping keep the animals warm during the cold weather. "When it gets too cold, below freezing we bring them inside. Some of our smaller primates like our squirrel monkeys we have them inside in small little crates," Sutton said.
There's more than 70 different species at the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo. One of the things they do for their animals when the temperatures begin to drop is install heat lamps on their outdoor cages.
Different types of animals tend to be more sensitive to the cold... For example, primates. Kathy Russell the General Curator said, "So behind me are the Capuchin enclosure and they're not inside but they have a back building that has three different types of heaters in it and they're staying warm... Because if they stay out in weather like this they can get frostbite just like we can."
They also add wind breakers to all the cages. "With our wind breaks, there kind of like if you would envision large tarps that you put on the outside of the enclosures just to help-- honestly break up the wind that is coming through there," Kramer said.
And for those of you watching with pets at home. If for some reason you can't bring them in, make sure your animals are covered from the wind. Russell says giving them boxes they can get in to and produce their own heat certainly helps.
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