BOISE -- The long-lasting frigid cold has forced Zoo Boise to make changes this week by taking many of the animals inside. The zoo's veterinarian says it really depends on species, but in general anything under 20 degrees is concerning for most animals.
"When we start getting in the single digits, that's really, really, really concerning," Zoo Boise Veterinarian Dr. Holly Peters said.
Peters explains some exotic animals are very sensitive to the cold and require extra attention in the winter.
"We kind of have guidelines that we follow where we say this particular animal needs to be in at this particular temperature."
Peters says an Indian Sarus Crane, for example is actually pretty tolerant of cold weather, but with so many days below freezing, the bird is staying in the monkey cages for now.
Outside, many exhibits are quiet and empty, with animals staying in different indoor locations around the zoo.
"All of Africa, you're going to see lots of empty exhibits," Peters said.
The lions' habitat is empty, and the giraffe are staying in their heated building. Some other animals are okay outside with some help.
"Our hyenas are out, but they have access to heated dens," Peters said. The hyena also dug their own den under rocks in their habitat.
For some Idaho-native animals, like bald eagles, it's pretty much business as usual.
"We still watch these animals because these are captive animals, so they don't always have the same instincts as their wild counterparts would have," Peters said.
There are also animals that actually really like the cold, such as snow leopards and red pandas.
Though it's been extraordinarily cold, Dr. Peters says no animals have been sick or injured because of the weather.
"We've had a few that we've noticed signs they looked colder than we'd like them to be, so we've moved them, but not anybody that's actually been ill from it," Peters said.
Peters says they check thermometers in animal habitats throughout the day and night, and they also watch for signs from the animals.
"We can go in the barn with thermometers and see what's the temperature like right under the heat lamp? What's the temperature like in the coolest part of the barn? And make sure that that's okay for the animal," Peters said. "We also look for the animal to show us signs that they're cold. So they'll shiver. Sometimes we'll see birds that will stand in their water dish, things like that, and that's signs that they're really too cold."
Because so many animals are not out on display, Peters says Zoo Boise is offering discounted admission this week. Children (ages 4-11) can get in for $3 and adults for $4.25. Children 3 and under are free.