How extreme winter weather affects the zoo

SOUTH BEND After a week filled with dangerously cold temperatures, one venue- typically reserved for the warmer months- hopes people will take advantage of a warmup and relieve their cabin fever.

The Potawatomi Zoo is hosting its first "Winter Days" on Saturday, January 11.

Arctic air caused problems for staff at the zoo, but it didn't stop them from reporting to duty. While many schools and businesses were closed due to dangerous conditions, staff at the zoo were required to care for the animals.

"It's an interesting thing," said Marcy Dean, the Executive Director at the zoo. "I've had a lot of people question whether we were here or not, and we were."

Safety precautions were put into place for the safety of both staff and the animals during the frigid conditions.

"Safety is always a concern," said Dean.

Some of the extra precautions include consistent trips indoors to prevent frostbite, and checking furnaces to make sure things were functioning properly. Plus, staff had to provide extra bedding, food and indoor access for the animals.

"It's funny because some of our animals actually like this cold weather," said Dean. "The camels will be out, the takin will be out, tigers, leopards, bison, otters."

Zoo staff says about 75% of the animal collection will be seen at the zoo's event on Saturday.

Winter Days is from 12-3p.m. at the zoo. Admission is $5.50. For more information, visit the zoo website.

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