Calgary Zoo animals thrive in, or hide from, cold weather

While the muskoxen are out taking in the weather, species like gorillas spend cold snaps hidden away from the elements.

Tropical animals hunker down, while some of the heartier beasts comes to life in winter

A red panda, one of the species that thrives in the cold, soaks up some sunshine on a frigid day at the Calgary Zoo. (Andrew Brown/CBC)

The gorillas hate it. 

The tigers love it. 

And some species of penguin go walking in it. 

What it is: the freezing cold weather. 

"For some of the animals, this is actually not a problem," said Calgary Zoo curator Malu Celli of Calgary's latest cold snap. "So if you're a muskox, if you're a caribou, Amur tiger, or a red panda or snow leopard, this is perfect weather for them.

"Some of our animals, the more tropical ones, they're definitely not happy, so they're staying inside."

Creature comforts

Celli said the zoo tries to do things to make life a little better for those beasts who hide from the cold. 

"A little like we indulge around Christmas time, we can give them a diet with higher fat content or more calories, because we know that they're trying to keep warm," she said. 

Malu Celli, a curator at the Calgary Zoo, said some animals thrive in the frigid temperatures. (Andrew Brown/CBC)

There are also straw beds to keep animals comfortable and dry.

Celli said there are guidelines for when staff can and cannot let animals outside, citing strict guidelines around the zoo's lions when it comes to temperatures. 

Good time to visit

Celli said it's a good time for humans to bundle up and visit the zoo, with many animals in the Eurasian and Canadian Wilds section out enjoying the weather. There are also fewer visitors.

"Some animals can actually be more playful. If it's too hot they would actually be quiet, not have a lot of energy, and sleep a lot and just want to stay inside where it's nice and cool," she said. 

Starting on Saturday, the cold-loving King Penguins will start their daily walks through the zoo grounds, but check the schedule as the march is still weather dependent. 

With files from Andrew Brown