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Member Matters: Welcoming Winter

Winter can be an ideal time to visit the Zoo

As thoughts start to turn toward cooler weather, sometimes thoughts can turn away from activities at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. It is easy to assume that when the weather is cold, the animals are as prone to stay indoors as we are. However, there are plenty of animals that live at the Zoo that are particularly active in the cold weather, making winter an ideal time for a trip to the Zoo.

For a winter Zoo visit, your best bet is to start at the top: namely, Asian Highlands, Rosebrough Tiger Passage, and Wilderness Trek. In fact, Animal Curator Travis Vineyard, who oversees Wilderness Trek and other outdoor Zoo habitats, suggests always tailoring your visit to the season to maximize the possibility that you’ll see animals at their most active.

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Asian Highlands

The new Asian Highlands is home to four species: snow leopard, Amur leopard, red panda, and takin. Vineyard predicts these animals will be particularly active in the winter months because the regions they are native to mirror our climate. Southwestern China and Asia actually have a climate that is similar to Northeast Ohio year-round.

So what can Asian Highlands visitors expect as the seasons change? The new snow leopard cubs will certainly be more energetic in the cold climate. Edgar the Amur leopard hails from the same region as the Zoo’s Amur tigers, and both species prefer the colder weather. The Zoo’s newest animal, the takin, is a goat-antelope species native to the Himalayan mountain region, where cold weather is common.

While these animals are also outdoors in the summer months, they will be more active and engaging in the winter. In fact, Vineyard explained that the design of Asian Highlands includes cooling caves in the leopard and red panda yards to make these animals more comfortable during the hot summer. The caves are cooled to 30 degrees below ambient temperature to give the animals a cool place to rest in hot weather.

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Rosebrough Tiger Passage and more

The Zoo’s seals, bears, reindeer, and onagers are also cold-hardy species. Their habitats are located near Asian Highlands, making an outdoor winter trip to the Zoo convenient, as the majority of cold-loving animals are clustered together.

Similar to the Amur leopard in Asian Highlands, the Amur tigers of Rosebrough Tiger Passage enjoy the colder weather and should be more likely to be seen running throughout the enclosures and passageways, rather than simply sleeping in one of the overheads!

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Wolf Lodge

The Wolf Lodge, also located near Rosebrough Tiger Passage and Asian Highlands, is not only home to cold-loving animals, but also makes for a great stop on your winter Zoo visit. You can find respite in the Lodge’s sitting room, with a working fireplace and festive holiday décor. Sarah Crupi, the Cleveland Zoological Society’s Director of External Relations, shared that the Wolf Lodge is a favorite spot for her family to stop and enjoy a snack in the winter months. While you’re there, visit the beavers, fish and wolves that call this area home.

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No matter the season, there are animals at the Zoo who thrive in that climate and will be more active during that time. Members have the advantage of coming to the Zoo throughout the year so remember Vineyard’s advice: Tailor your visit to each season and visit the animals who will be most active at that time. Over your winter break, when you need ways to entertain your children (or visiting adults!), you can rely on the Zoo just as much as you can in the summer months. Bundle up and enjoy!

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