Yes, the Animals in African Journey Really Do Spend the Winter Here!
But don’t they enjoy warmer weather? How in the world do you give them warm weather in February? Is that a picture of a LION outside in the SNOW!?
Well, yes they do enjoy warmer weather and, yes, that is a picture of a lion in the snow, but there’s always more to learn at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo
Although their wild counterparts are used to a warmer climate, the lions in our care have adapted to where they live. We do, however, only allow the lions outside if it is 20 degrees Fahrenheit or higher− going by real feel. They always have access to their inside home during off-season, but we’ve found they enjoy being outside, playing in the snow, and napping on their heated rocks!
The lions adore their heated rocks, which can get up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit! The rocks are kept warm via water coils that run underneath the rocks. Bahati and Ina spend a lot of their off-season on their heated rocks, and when you see a picture of them relaxing in the snow, they’re more than likely enjoying a chilly day, snuggled up with the warmth of their rock.
The Amur Leopard
We’ll let you in on a secret, though our Amur leopard calls African Journey home, he isn’t actually an African leopard! Amur leopards in the wild are generally found in far east Russia and China, thus they are used to the colder climates that Indiana offers. Because of this, Wyatt, our Amur leopard, enjoys being outside down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit! He spends most of winter happily playing in the snow without a care for the cold.
These tall friends have a very short tolerance for cold weather. Anything below 50 degrees Fahrenheit is too cold for them! The spots of a giraffe are clusters of veins and capillaries, which helps the giraffe regulate their body heat in their ordinarily hot, dry environment in Africa. However, this may cause issues in our Indiana climate, as giraffe are extremely susceptible to hypothermia; therefore, we must monitor outdoor temperatures very closely.
During the colder months, our giraffe spend their days in a massive barn. This space is filled with room to roam, eat, and to make sure our giraffe have the mental and physical stimulants they require, we give them enrichment activities, or activities that give the giraffe the mental and physical stimulation that elicits natural behavior.