National News

Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo needs help keeping animals warm

Posted January 4, 2018 11:08 a.m. EST

— Our extended cold snap has had folks wrapping pipes and looking for ways to stay warm. It's been especially challenging for the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo IN Gulf Shores. The long period of cold weather has meant long hours for workers and special care for many of the animals.

By mid-day Wednesday, January 03, 2018 some of the animals at the zoo had found a sunny spot to soak up some warmth. With the protection of their fur coats, most of the mammals there are pretty tolerant of the freezing temperatures. That's not the case for many of the birds and reptiles though. Zoo staff has been busy trying to keep them warm and safe.

"They monitor them all day long. They're here early, early before the sun comes up in the morning. They don't leave till after dark," said zoo curator, Cindy Johnson. "We have a security guard that monitors the animals that we tell him is be looking out for and then it's just a big team effort."

Zoo supporters are a huge part of that team and the efforts there couldn't go on without donations from the public. Folks have been showing up with hay bales and other items the last couple days to help the animals.

"We decided, let's just go down there and bring some hay. Those animals need hay, said Dick Stewart from Fairhope. "We have animals, not here, but north of here and they always need something to eat or something to bed in."

Blankets are used to block the cold, north winds and extra hay is put down for bedding to help insulate the animals from the cold. Some animals require special care, like three tortoises. Zoo employees built a temporary house for them out of plywood and installed heat lamps. Other animals, like several birds began showing signs of stress and had to be brought inside.

"We weigh them and so we keep track of their weight so they had lost just a little bit of weight and they also starting to shiver a little bit more. It is natural for these birds to shiver. That's how they stay warm naturally, but these guys were just having a little bit more trouble than the others," explained head avian keeper, Rachel Gulley.

So far, all of the animals are doing well, but donations are still needed as the cold weather is expected to stay with us several more days. Another thing that the zoo can always use is gift cards to home improvement or hardware stores. Right now they're dealing with broken pipes caused by the freezing temperatures. Those donations can be brought to the zoo during business hours.