Mill Mountain Zoo warms up animals during cold snap

The zoo has moved many of its birds out of the elements

ROANOKE, Va. – The Mill Mountain Zoo took extra steps to keep its animals warm when temperatures in Roanoke plunged on Wednesday.

"Extra preparations start to happen around 40 degrees," said Mill Mountain Zoo co-director Robin Lentz. "We start to get worried because we're up here on the mountain."

The zoo staff has turned up the heat in the habitats in a variety of ways, including providing extra bedding for the animals and placing heat lamps or heat mats in some habitats. They have moved many of the zoo's birds off-site since the birds aren't cut out for the cold.

"Twenty-five percent of our collection has been moved indoors," said Lentz. "Some of them are sheltered temporarily for this winter burst and some of them you won't see again until April."

While most animals at Mill Mountain needed some adjustments to weather the cold, the zoo's snow leopard made himself right at home in the frigid temperatures. That's because the snow leopard is native to freezing, high-altitude areas of China, India and Russia.

"This is his time of year," said Lentz. "However, our concern level across the zoo heightens for a lot of reasons. We absolutely want to make sure our animals are well sheltered and protected."

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