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Zoo animals ready for cold temperatures

January 30, 2019

If you think the only creatures around here who might enjoy today’s -15 degree temperature must be the penguins at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo -- well, no. 

The zoo’s penguins are from South Africa, not Antarctica, and they don’t tolerate extreme cold, said Bonnie Kemp, zoo spokeswoman. 

“Their limit is 30 degrees,” she said. “South African penguins don’t like this type of weather at all.” 

Like most of the zoo’s animals, the penguins are brought indoors for the winter, usually just a couple of weeks after the zoo’s season for visitors ends, Kemp said. 

But some animals aren’t troubled a bit, even by temperatures in negative numbers, she added. 

The zoo’s pair of Canadian lynxes -- Loki, a male and Frisco, a female -- and a red panda, native to the Himalayan mountains of China and Nepal, are quite happy in their enclosures, Kemp said. 

“This type of weather, we do take extra precautions. We do have little houses for them to go in at night, and we provide extra bedding and a heated water source, so their water doesn’t freeze,” she said. 

But the animals are designed for the weather. 

The lynxes have thick fur and thick, snowshoe-like paws, Kemp said. Justin, the 5-year-old panda, has a long, fluffy tail he uses like a blanket, she said. 

“He has an indoor (spot) he goes into at night, and he’s up in the trees and likes being up in his perch in the daytime,” she said Wednesday. 

“Yesterday, he spent time playing in the snow.” 

rsalter@jg.net

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