With frigid temperatures, it’s no surprise the Saskatoon zoo doesn’t see the foot traffic like it does in the summer.
“Very few and far between people coming for a walk in the zoo when you’re hitting these type of low temperatures,” said Tim Sinclair-Smith, the manager of the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo.
Despite the lack of visitors, the zoo remains open to the public every day of the year, except Christmas Day.
While the two grizzly bears hibernate, many of the zoo’s animals aren’t hiding from the cold. Wolves, cougars and other animals on display can thrive in these temperatures.
“There’s other species that are borderline, and you have to really keep a close eye. Things like our miniature horses, our pygmy goat. We’re watching them very closely,” Sinclair-Smith said.
Certain outdoor animals are given hay for bedding, heat lamps, and shelters, while zoo keeping staff monitor behaviours during cold weather.
“They’ve got to go out there and work and there’s still the same jobs that have to be done; cleaning the enclosures, training with the animals, all that type of work that has to happen,” Sinclair-Smith explained.
There are 22 animals that stay in a winter holding facility. They range from birds, such as owls and hawks, to hoof stock, like deer and goats.
Fifteen of those animals are in quarantine, which the public can not access.
“The species that might be tropical or from regions that never see minus temperatures have to come inside at the beginning of the winter season.”
The zoo is free to the public from Nov. 1 to March 31.
Approximately 22,000 people visited the Saskatoon zoo during the winter months of 2017.