Chill out, zoo set for winter
No, Fargo's Red River Zoo won't be putting anti-freeze in its camels' humps this fall. The zoo, which closes for the season Oct. 29 and will reopen in late April, has begun preparing for winter. Those preparations aren't nearly as drastic as some...
No, Fargo's Red River Zoo won't be putting anti-freeze in its camels' humps this fall.
The zoo, which closes for the season Oct. 29 and will reopen in late April, has begun preparing for winter.
Those preparations aren't nearly as drastic as some people might think, said executive director Paula Grimestad.
Most of the zoo's outdoor animals can handle the cold naturally and will remain outside, she said.
The zoo, which opened seven years ago, was designed to feature animals adapted to the cold.
Even the zoo's three Bactrian camels will remain outside.
"People think of camels and deserts. But deserts can get cold, too, and our camels can handle the cold," she said.
Several patrons, apparently in earnest, have asked whether the zoo uses anti-freeze to keep water - which in reality is fat - in the camels' humps from freezing over winter.
The answer, of course, is no, Grimestad said.
So how will winter affect the zoo and its animals?
For one thing, animals kept outside will receive more food - typically about 20 percent to 25 percent more than they get now, said Mike Schmidt, animal collection manager.
The additional feed allows animals to produce the extra energy needed in colder weather, he said.
Animals kept outside will receive extra bedding, too.
The zoo typically uses about 150 pounds of straw daily during the winter to help keep its outdoor animals warm, Schmidt said.
Another change in winter: Zoo staffers will carry water in pails to outdoor animals. Water is piped during warm weather, but the pipes would freeze in winter.
Some of the zoo's outdoor animals soon will be brought indoors for the winter.
The prairie pot hole exhibit, for instance, will be drained of water and its ducks and geese brought indoors.
The zoo will be ready in case a two- or three-day blizzard strikes, Grimestad said.
At least one zoo staffer is always on site, and other staffers will get to work no matter how bad the weather, she said.
Wahpeton, N.D.'s Chahinkapa Zoo also is preparing for winter.
Some area residents believe the zoo - which has 70 species in its collection - sends many of its animals south for the winter, said director Kathy Diekman.
"We hear that a lot. But we keep them all here," she said.
The Red River Zoo also keeps all of its animals over winter.
Chahinkapa Zoo uses great care to ensure that its animals fare well over the winter, Diekman said.
For instance, biting winter winds often are more dangerous than low temperatures, so the zoo installs wind guards to protect its animals left outside, she said.
The zoo closes to the general public for the season at the end of the month and reopens May 1.
But the zoo will try to accommodate schools and other groups that would like to visit during the winter.
"Please call us. That's why we're here," Diekman said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Jonathan Knutson at (701) 241-5530