Conversation overheard at the Calgary Zoo on Friday: “It was so cold in Calgary.”
“How cold was it?”
“The penguins weren’t allowed out”.
It’s true. If you wanted to see the penguins in action on Friday, the only place to do so was in their indoor enclosure.
With a temperature of -25 C in Calgary on Friday afternoon, and an extreme cold warning in effect from Environment Canada, zoo staff determined that it was safer for the animals to be kept inside.
“On cold days like this, we have to make that choice for them because it is so cold, but on other days, we do give them the option of coming in and out as they please,” said Larissa Mark, manager of communications with the Calgary Zoo.
Mark says the king penguins normally go on the zoo’s annual Penguin Walk which starts in January. However, they are not accustomed to severe cold like emperor penguins are.
It was very quiet at the Calgary Zoo on Friday but the families who did show up were happy to be out of the house.
“You get a bit of cabin fever. The kids were starting to resent being inside so much. And plus I was starting to lose my mind,” laughed Bill Robinson, who was there with his two children.
“You know if the penguins are inside, that’s a sign that it’s cold outside. As long as you’re dressed for it, it’s a great time to be outside. Nobody else is joining you, so you’ve got lots of room.”
The zoo is also adapting it’s Zoolights program during the cold snap to make it more comfortable for guests.
“The event has been designed to have that flexibility, so some of our activities such as the games we offer will be moved indoors just so that our visitors aren’t having to be outside any longer than they want to be,” Mark said. Zoolights will be on until Jan. 6 and the skating rink is still open along with fire pits to warm up at.
“Calgarians are a hardy bunch,” Mark said. “A cup of hot chocolate and a warm fire and they are still coming out and enjoying Zoolights. Our attendance is doing well, it is on par with where we were last year.”