WUFT News

Santa Fe Zoo Animals Get Heaters, Blankets For Cold Weather

By on January 28th, 2014
The hawk headed parrot perches by its heat box at the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo.

Alyssa Fisher / WUFT News

The hawk headed parrot perches by its heat box at the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo.

While Squirt was excited by the recent freezing temperatures, galloping around his enclosure and acting friskier than usual, others were not quite so enthused.

Squirt, a guanaco similar to a llama, was born to face the unseasonably cold weather. As he welcomed the cooler winds to Gainesville, other animals at the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo are requiring extra care to keep warm.

Because temperatures have been fluctuating, the animals at the zoo are having trouble getting used to the cold weather.

Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo senior Courtney Copestake works by the capuchin monkey area, which is covered with wood paneling and plastic.

Alyssa Fisher / WUFT News

Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo senior Courtney Copestake works by the capuchin monkey area, which is covered with wood paneling and plastic.

Birds and primates are given heat lamps when the temperature is below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, and the staff checks the weather every day to come up with the procedures for each species.

“The primates carry blankets around with them,” said Katerina Bonaldi, a student at Santa Fe Teaching Zoo. “It’s adorable.”

When there is a hard freeze and temperatures drop to the 20s and 30s, heat lamps and blankets are not enough. Most of the birds are brought inside. The students and staff put them wherever there was room, from the Herp House with the reptiles to the educational building. One week ago, low temperatures kept the birds inside for four days.

The primates spent nights inside the smaller houses they wait in while their enclosures are being cleaned. Some wood paneling was stapled to the side and plastic was pulled over to seal in the warmth and block the wind.

When the wind chill got too high, trash bags were used to make a tarp, something Copestake said is not usually done and something she had never seen before.

The squirrel monkeys in particular had to be taken off display. Prone to frostbite, they had to have constant heat.

“They won’t go to the heat boxes,” Copestake said. “They’re not the smartest.”

The staff also took precautionary measures to ensure the reptiles were safe from the cold temperatures.

“Because they are cold-blooded, they need the heat sources, and when it’s cold outside, they can’t get it,” she said. “They have to have heat more readily available to them than some of the other animals that are able to control their body heat.”

While the the temperature fluctuates, zoo staff gauges each exhibit with a laser thermometer to make sure the animals are at an ideal temperature.

“There’s a fine line between warm enough and too warm,” said Tarah Jacobs, Santa Fe College’s conservation education specialist. “Reptiles’ metabolism will speed up if temperatures get too high inside.”

During the day most animals get put back on display. Those with fur, such as primates and deer, fluff it out and lie in the sun to get warm.

To avoid making the habitats colder, the staff cleans the enclosures without spraying them down as much as in the warmer months.

“Spot cleaning has no effect (on) the animals,” Jacobs said. “The enclosures are still clean. When it’s below 40 degrees, we just don’t spray as much water so nothing is too cold and wet.”

Dietary changes are also used to help animals with the colder weather. The staff keeps the birds warm by increasing their portion of dry food, which increases their energy. On Sunday night, their food was increased by 50 percent.

As the zoo staff prepares to make changes in the animals’ diets and locations throughout the remainder of the season, Squirt appears unfazed by the cold and content in his pen.

“He loves it,” Copestake said. “It’s like home for him.”


This entry was posted in Local and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Local

Rodrigo Guerrero, 21, watches his older brother, Alfonso Guerrero, 30, brewing coffee using a "pour over" technique. Know Where Coffee specializes in providing artisan coffees that are made to order. Bradley Williams / WUFT

Third-Wave Coffee Culture Popularity Rises In Gainesville

Know Where Coffee opened its doors this month. The new establishment proves the third-wave coffee culture is rising in popularity, especially across local coffee shops in Gainesville.


Luke Watkins, the 28-year-old partner of Black Hog Farms, is working toward creating a weekly farmers market along the St. Johns River in Palatka. The Saturday market will feature local farmers, musicians, artists and food trucks.

Local Businessperson Plans Farmers Market For Palatka

While Palatka’s government hopes to attract visitors to their area with the riverfront development project, a local business owner has his own idea for bringing in more people.


Robert Yard performs a song for a toddler using a Lakota love flute at the Cedar Key Fine Arts Festival in Cedar Key, Florida. Yard held impromptu music lessons throughout the day for patrons that were curious about playing an instrument. (Photo by Sydnei Cartwright)

Patrons and Artists Pack Cedar Key for 51st Annual Fine Arts Festival

Cedar Key held its 51st annual Cedar Key Fine Arts Festival this past Saturday and Sunday, and experienced a large turnout from supporting counties and out-of-state visitors. The Festival showcased a number of different arts including jewelry, photography, wood making, and mixed media.


A group of 'dirty kids' fly a sign on the corner of SE 1st St and SE 2nd Pl while one patches up a jacket and another plays guitar on Jan. 23, 2015 in Gainesville​. Photo by Andrea Sarcos/WUFT News

‘Home-Free’ Squatters Find Community In Gainesville

An abandoned house in Gainesville became a home for a group of individuals that call themselves “dirty kids.” The dirty kids feel that they are different from homeless people.


IMG_8377

Chicken House Fire Kills 24,000 Chicks

Chickens die in a chicken house fire at Saavedra Farms on Wednesday night.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Underwriting Payments