Where do the animals go in the winter?
This is a question we frequently hear this time of year. Some people have even asked if we send them south for the colder months! The simple answer is that they all stay here at Southwick’s Zoo!
Once the weather starts to get chilly in late fall, we begin the process of moving many of our animals indoors to their winter quarters. Our monkeys, gibbons, kangaroos, wallabies, birds, porcupines, tortoises, sloths, and other species that cannot tolerate the bitter New England winters are all moved to large, heated indoor enclosures. Even our adult alligator is moved indoors for the winter. How? Very carefully and with the help of many people. Some species, the cotton-top tamarins and chimpanzees for example, have their heated enclosure attached to their habitat, so they remain in the main portion of the zoo.
We continue to provide our animals with a wide variety of enrichment items to keep them physically and mentally active and to promote natural behaviors. Enrichment can come in the form of tree branches for the primates to climb and swing on, logs with treat filled holes for the porcupines to gnaw, foraging toys for our birds, and many other items. Much of our enrichment is made from recycled items such as cardboard boxes and newspaper.
A few of our animals have the option to go outside during the day, and some species such as the yaks and Bactrian camels are actually well suited to cold weather. Bactrian camels grow thick shaggy coats that keep them warm during the winter, so we frequently see them outdoors even while it is snowing. Our big cats also have the option to go outdoors, so it isn’t unusual to see the tigers and lions playing in the snow during the afternoon!