It might not be the first activity you think of, but chilly winter days like today are one of the best times to visit the zoo! Not only do they make for a relaxing stroll through our park without the busyness of fair-weather crowds, but they also increase the chance of catching some of our cold-weather-loving animals in action! Animals who thrive in cooler weather tend to be more active on chilly days, which means you might see a whole different side of them. That’s why we’ve put together a list of some of the best animals to keep your eye out for when the temperature drops:
While our flightless friends are usually found inside Penguin Plunge, our king penguins can also be found outside when the temperatures are cool enough – not just in their outdoor habitat but waddling through the zoo! Between January and March, our king penguins take advantage of the cooler weather by enjoying their daily Penguin Walk across the zoo (weather-depending), so make sure to stop by and check it out!
In case their name didn’t give it away, snow leopards are right at home in this cooler climate. In fact, everything about them from their wide paws to their thick coat is designed for snow. They can be tricky to spot in their Eurasia habitat– they’re known for being elusive – but a drop in temperature is sometimes all that’s needed to bring out their playful side.
Japanese Macaques are commonly referred to as snow monkeys, if that gives you a clue as to how they do in colder weather. They live further north than any other primate (excluding humans) and they know how to make the most of that cold climate. When the snow starts falling, you can find them embracing the cold in the Eurasia section of the zoo.
Caribou are cold weather pros, just ask Santa. Not only do they have two layers of thick fur and noses that heat the air they breathe by up to 80 degrees before it reaches their lungs, but they also make a clicking sound when they walk, thanks to a special tendon in their feet, that prevents them from getting separated from their her in snow storms! Everything about them is designed for the cold, so make sure to visit them in Canadian Wilds in their natural element during your next snow day.
In the wild, Amur tigers are found mainly in the Amur valley of Siberia and, from what we’ve heard, Siberia can get a little chilly. Needless to say, our Amur tigers are big fans of the cold and, thanks to their beautiful orange coats, you’ll have no trouble spotting them in the Eurasian section of the zoo, even on even the snowiest of days.
Not all camels love the cold, but ours sure do! Bactrian camels are designed to handle the drastically shifting weather of Central and East Asia’s rocky deserts which can swing from a scorching +40°C during the summer to -30°C during the winter. So, on colder days like today, you’ll find them out and about right next to Panda Passage enjoying the weather they were built for.
Another animal that you may not initially come to mind when you think cold weather is pandas, they live in the mountains of central China and are used to dealing with chilly weather. When the temperature drops here in Calgary, our four giant pandas feel right at home in Panda Passage! In fact, when the first storm of the season hit last fall, the pandas had a blast romping in the fresh snow!