Pueblo Zoo works to keep animals warm during winter

Photo courtesy of the Pueblo Zoo
Photo courtesy of the Pueblo Zoo

Having a zoo in Southern Colorado means some animals have to adjust to the cold, snowy temperatures during the winter season.

In order to make sure the animals have comfortable living arrangements during the bitter Colorado winters, the zookeeper staff cares for the animals in all weather for the entire year.

General Curator Ashley Bowen is in charge of the animal care department. She is also responsible for managing the keeper staff. In her position, she manages all animal shipments, oversees their care and makes sure that all the applicable laws and regulations dealing with animals are followed.

While most of the animals would probably prefer basking in the warm sun outside, the cold snowy Colorado winters are unavoidable at this zoo. When it does start to snow they do have indoor options to keep the animals warm.

Bowen said that when it falls below a certain temperature, some animals cannot handle the cold. These animals have alternate indoor housing and when the chilly weather starts to arrive, the animals are kept inside.

“We keep an eye on the weather, so if we notice that we are going to have a cold night, we’ll make sure the animals have what they need to stay warm,” Bowen said.

There are, however, some animals at the Pueblo Zoo that can handle the cold weather, Bowen said. These animals, unbothered by the cold, can be kept outside during the winter.

“We have several species of animals found in Colorado, and they can all stay outside during the winter.  Plus, we have cold weather animals from around the world that have evolved to deal with cold temperatures,” Bowen said.

Some of the animals that particularly enjoy the cold, snowy season include red pandas, Pallas’ cats, Canadian lynx and North American river otters. These animals are out and about year-round, making it easy for visitors to them almost all the time.

Although the winter season does mean fewer visitors to the zoo, there are some advantages. Bowen said that some of the animals prefer the colder weather, so they are more likely to participate in training, or just be more active.

One of the oldest attractions in the city, the Pueblo Zoo is home to more than 400 animals and 120 species, as well as many exhibits including the Serengeti Safari, which includes Masai lions, plains zebras, ostriches, Thomson’s gazelles, East African crowned cranes, lappet-faced vultures, white storks and waterbucks.

There is also The Australian Outback with emus and red kangaroos from Australia.

The Pueblo Zoo, which is located within City Park, is open all year, seven days a week.