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

Retired Marine Cary Hill, unit commander of the Milton Lewis Young Marines, said "Freedom isn't free" during Memorial Day ceremonies at Forest Meadows Cemetery in Gainesville, Fla. Monday, May, 26, 2015.

Young Marines Honor Veterans On Memorial Day

Milton Lewis Young Marines honor veterans during Memorial Day ceremonies at Forest Meadows Cemetery in Gainesville. Mayor Ed Braddy and Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell were among the group that dedicated their speeches to veterans.


Roller Derby

Rolling to Recovery: Tattooed and Bruised

Camille Loose is a 30-year-old recovering methadone addict who may be better known to some by her roller derby name, Jane Dough. Loose turned to the sport to help overcome her past issues.


Park visitors enjoy a day in the crystal clear waters at Ichetucknee Springs State Park. Guests can enjoy tubing from the north entrance beginning Memorial Day Weekend.

Ichetucknee Springs Reopens Entrance for Memorial Day

Ichetucknee Springs is reopening the northern entrance of the park for Memorial Day weekend. 4,000 are expected to be in attendance during the three-day weekend.


Deputy County Manager Betty Baker speaks to the Gainesville City Commission on the need for regulations at the homeless camp Dignity Village. Thursday, commissioners approved to spend up to $50,000 to secure an emergency contract with a non-profit provider.

City Commission Grants Gainesville Management Of Dignity Village

Gainesville City Commission passes a motion for the management of Dignity Village. The motion begins the process of addressing safety issues and concerns regarding the logistics of the community.


Gina Eaton (left), a 34-year-old graduate student at UF, and Heather Petroccia, a 26-year-old Ph.D. student at UF, clean out buckets to prepare them to mix grout for the tiles.

Habitat For Humanity Build Programs Empower Women

National Women Build Week was May 2-10. Alachua Habitat for Humanity Women Build participated in the weeklong event.


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