Q&A on the News

Q: How do the animals at Zoo Atlanta handle cold weather? What precautions are in place to protect them? What animals are endangered by the frigid cold?

—Jeff Bonnell, Atlanta

A: Zoo officials take specific steps to make sure animals are never endangered by extreme cold. More than 220 species are represented at the zoo, and levels of cold tolerance or preference for colder weather differ from species to species, officials said. Species such as the giant panda and red panda are well adapted for cold, and even snow, officials say. Other animals, such as the naked mole rat colony and the reptiles and amphibians of the World of Reptiles, live in climate-controlled habitats year-round. For less cold-tolerant species, including gorillas and monkeys, animal care professionals make decisions based on daily temperature readings and wind chill factors. As a general rule, most primates at Zoo Atlanta do not go outdoors when temperatures dip below 40 degrees. In cases of inclement weather, including, but not limited to extreme cold or snow, all animals can be moved into indoor night areas or predetermined protective structures, officials said. The zoo also maintains backup generators for use during power outages and maintains an emergency four-day generator fuel supply. The zoo is stocked with three days’ worth of fresh produce and two weeks’ worth of dry animal feed, officials said.

Lori Johnston wrote this column. Do you have a question about the news? We’ll try to get the answer. Call 404-222-2002 or e-mail q&a@ajc.com (include name, phone and city).