Journey to the Zoo

1 decade 3 years 11 months ago Thursday, February 23 2006 Feb 23, 2006 Thursday, February 23, 2006 4:58:59 PM CST February 23, 2006 in News

Visiting the zoo is your typical summer-time activity, but we thought we'd check in with St. Louis Zoo curator Steve Bircher and see what happens to the animals during the winter and find out if there's anything to see. Bircher has been taking care of the zoos mammals and carnivores for 27 years. He said his job lasts all year.

"Everything you see on a polar bar is designed for cold temperatures," Bircher said. "They don't slow down or hibernate like some of the other species of bears we have. To the left is the gragile forest. This our newest exhibit here at the zoo. These are the outdoor yards for chimps and orangs and they are very similar to us. So, we can put these guys out down to about 45 degrees Farhenheit below that they then have to be locked up inside the building which is heated, but you can view the chimps and apes and gorillas inside the building if you can't see them outside."

These guys are well designed to live in cold temperatures because it gets quite cold in Siberia, Eastern Russia. They go out all year round, they love the snow. Many of the park's water foul and exotic birds are taken to heated, underground facilities within the park. Primates, reptiles, and other certain groups of animals are inside during the winter, but can always be seen in their respective buildings. One task that takes place every day regardless of the weather, is feeding.

"Here we have other boxes that are packed with mainly enrichment foods. Peanut butter, bread, honey... That might be used when you're medicating animals. Pasta that gets scattered around and is grabbed as dry forage. So we've got again a lot of stuff to load right on to the truck in the morning. For example, we'll get frozen rats or little pinky mice that get fed to a variety of species," Bircher said.

That means the animals are fed every day, summer or winter.

"So don't let the winter weather discourage you from visiting the zoo, there are plenty of animals for you to see."

Again the zoo is open year round and admission is free. Next week, Josh will journey to the Precious Moments park in Carthidge.

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