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Cold Hits Zoo Critters and Pets Alike

Posted at: 01/22/2013 6:19 PM
Updated at: 01/22/2013 6:26 PM
By: Maarja Anderson
manderson@wdio.com

The cold snap sweeping the Northland is not only hitting residents hard, it's hitting animals, too. Zoo critters and pets alike feel the bitter wind chills and animals experts are saying we should take extra precautions with our pets.

The Lake Superior Zoo was closed to visitors Tuesday because of the cold, but those animals genetically made for the cold were out and about in the bitter weather.

"We are a cold weather zoo, so we try to have cold weather animals," said lead zookeeper Maicie Sykes. "A lot of our animals love the winter."

Sykes said they take precautions when it comes to cold weather species by species. While cold weather critters like the snow leopard, the lynx, and the wolves are outside and active in these below zero temperatures, the African lions are locked inside away from the elements.

"A lot of our animals, we go based on their behavior, if they seem like they're chilled, if they're not eating, if there is any health issues, that will bring a lot of attention to us," said Sykes.

This bitter weather hits Fluffy and Fido at home, too. Dr. Amanda Bruce, owner of PetCare of Duluth, said it is crucial to keep pets inside during cold snaps like the one sweeping the Northland.

"If you do have an outdoor dog or cat I'd really make sure that your shelter has deep bedding so they can get down away from the cold and wind," said Dr. Bruce.

Like critters at the zoo, it's all about knowing your pet and what they can take.

"Every pet is different. A threshold for a husky is certainly going to be different than the threshold of a chihuahuh."

Both Sykes and Dr. Bruce emphasized when it comes to weather like this, make sure animals have access to clean and defrosted weather. Dr Bruce added if you do plan to go outside for an extended period of time with your pet, little booties or a sweater would be a good idea.