Another year, another winter storm for North Texas. Due to low temperatures and icy conditions, the Zoo was closed Thursday, Feb. 3 through Saturday, Feb. 5. Despite the less than ideal weather conditions, Zoo staff needed to be here to care for the animals whether the Zoo was open for guests or not.
Before the winter weather arrived, Zoo staff kept busy preparing for the cold. Our operations teams mixed sand and de-icing salts to treat walkways, our engineering team kept busy checking piping, water systems and additional facilities; our nutrition team prepared and delivered diets to all areas of the Zoo a day in advance so that all the necessary meals were ready and onsite (7,000 mouths to feed!) and our animal staff prepped barns and indoor habitats with extra hay and nesting materials. Many animals moved inside, like the larger birds that can usually remain in their outdoor habitats. Bird staff herded the flocks of flamingos and all the savanna birds inside to keep warm.
Throughout the weekend, teams were onsite caring for the animals every day, continuously checking facilities and de-icing pathways so that the Zoo would be safe for guests upon reopening. And the best part – the keepers kept us entertained with snowy content!
Our Texas-native animals had the option to venture outside and were more inclined to explore than others. Clifford the longhorn calf romped in his first snow and even got a taste or two of the fluffy stuff. The donkey and sheep spent time collecting snowflakes, too. Although our goats didn’t go outside, they experienced the weather in a different way - munching on the extra hay used to line the seams of the doors for warmth.
Snow was brought inside for some. The rockhopper penguins hopped around in a pile of it. Bubbles the hippo had her very own snowman sculpted for her. Crockett the rhino had a snowman of his own, but he was more interested in the snacks that topped it off. Bluebonnet ventured outside as Brazos followed hesitantly; he stuck his trunk into the snow and tiptoed out before running back into the barn. And as the weather warmed up, the gharials left their temperature-controlled water to sunbathe on the beach – even with snow still on the ground!
The Zoo was back up and running normally by Sunday, as was the rest of North Texas. Although we’re glad for the quick return of warmer weather, the cold provided enriching experiences for the animals that they don’t always get!