Protecting The Birds In Zoos From Extreme Cold

House Finch in Snow ©WikiC

“But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; And the birds of the air, and they will tell you;” (Job 12:7 NKJV)

The last few days, the northern states of the United States and Canada have been experiencing extreme cold temperatures. Watching the news today, our Manatees, here in Florida, are heading in to the warmer waterways. But how about the birds?

Checking articles about how the Zoos protect their avian wonders during this severe cold snap, there were several interesting things that are being done to protect the birds.

In Chicago, they actually closed the “Lincoln Park Zoo …closed at 3 p.m. on Tuesday and was to remain shut on Wednesday, when temperatures are expected to reach a daytime high of around 14 degrees below zero. Brookfield Zoo planed to close its doors Wednesday and Thursday.” [edited to make it past tense, written Jan 28, 2019]

“To ensure the safety of our animals and staff, the zoo will only have a skeleton crew on site who will provide basic core functions, including animal care and to check on the facilities,” said Stuart Strahl, president and CEO of the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, in a statement.

That zoo has closed just three other times in its 85-year history: Feb. 2, 2011, due to a snowstorm; and Sept. 14, 2018 and April 18, 2013, because of significant flooding.”

“Lincoln Park Zoo spokesperson Jillian Braun said the zoo has closed just one other time due to extreme weather in recent memory. ”

Chicago Zoos to Close in Anticipation of Extreme Cold

Swallows Keeping Warm in Cold and Snow ©WTTW

Another article by the same source “Shiver, Fluff and Cuddle: How Birds Keep Warm in the Winter

Even the Penguins in Canada aren’t too sure about this cold weather. See:

These Zoo Penguins Are Clearly Not Enjoying Canada’s Cold Winter

“The Calgary Zoo in Alberta had to bring its penguins inside after the weather dropped to -25 degrees below zero Celsius.

Calgary Zoo – Gentoo Penguins ©Inside Edition

The zoo’s 51 Gentoo penguins, Humboldt penguins, king penguins and rockhopper penguins, are usually brought in at some point every year.

“The keepers are able to call the penguins in and they have an instinct to want to be indoors when it gets that cold as well. We do this every winter when the temperature plummets to where it was a few days ago,” a zoo official told “They are cold weather birds, but the temperatures were colder than they prefer.”

Another Zoo, Saskatoon zoo works to keep animals safe in extreme cold weather, says, “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.”

Dunlins in Snow

The St. Louis Zoo in Missouri says, “On one of the coldest days in over 20 years, employees at the St. Louis Zoo are busy making sure animals are being cared for and protected from the dangerously cold weather….

“A lot of times you’ll see those animals adapted to cold weather actually being more active in the cooler weather than you would in the summer heat,” Anne Tieber, curator of birds. In the historic buildings that house the birds, monkeys, and reptiles, zookeepers keep the temperature around 70 degrees, with a little of humidly for the tropical plants and some animals.”

“One surprisingly warm place the zoo is the Penguin and Puffin Coast, the building is kept at a balmy 45 degrees year-round.  So, right now it seems incredibly warm to the 7 degrees outside but flips to feeling cold in the summer.”

Enjoy these articles, plus a few more that tell how the wild birds also survive these extreme cold days and nights.

Chicago Zoos to Close in Anticipation of Extreme Cold

Shiver, Fluff and Cuddle: How Birds Keep Warm in the Winter

These Zoo Penguins Are Clearly Not Enjoying Canada’s Cold Winter

Saskatoon zoo works to keep animals safe in extreme cold weather

St. Louis Zoo in Missouri



Keeping Warm in Winter is for the Birds

Do Animals Hate the Bitter Cold?

How Does Extreme Winter Weather Affect Wildlife?

How Canada’s zoos protect their animals from the bitter cold

Wordless Birds


Bible Birds – Common Ostrich

Common Ostrich (Struthio camelus) at Riverbanks Zoo SC by Lee

Common Ostrich (Struthio camelus) at Riverbanks Zoo SC by Lee

Dan and I were on vacation and stopped by the Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens in Columbia, SC. I have see Ostriches before, but it has been awhile. We see the Emus at Lowry Park Zoo often, but they are not nearly as tall as the Ostrich. I had forgotten that the Lord had created such a huge bird.

The wings of the ostrich wave proudly, But are her wings and pinions like the kindly stork’s? For she leaves her eggs on the ground, And warms them in the dust; She forgets that a foot may crush them, Or that a wild beast may break them. She treats her young harshly, as though they were not hers; Her labor is in vain, without concern, Because God deprived her of wisdom, And did not endow her with understanding. When she lifts herself on high, She scorns the horse and its rider. (Job 39:13-18 NKJV)

The Ostrich does belong to the Struthionidae Family. Currently there are two; the Common Ostrich (Struthio camelus) and the Somali Ostrich (Struthio molybdophanes). The one we saw was the Common. The Ostrich is the largest bird in the world! They are omnivorous flightless birds but make up for their inability to fly with the powerful legs they possess. These birds were built for speed. That is why the reference to the horse and rider. Ostriches can give a horse competition for at least a burst of speed.

Common Ostrich (Struthio camelus) Foot at Riverbanks Zoo SC by Lee

Common Ostrich (Struthio camelus) Foot back at Riverbanks Zoo SC by Lee

“Ostriches usually weigh from 140–320 lb (63 to 145 kilograms), Ostriches of the East African race (S. c. massaicus) averaged 250 lb (115 kg) in males and 220 lb (100 kg) in females, while the nominate subspecies was found to average 240 lb (111 kg) in unsexed adults. At sexual maturity (two to four years), male ostriches can be from 6 ft 11 in to 9 ft 2 in (2.1 to 2.8 m) in height, while female ostriches range from 5 ft 7 in to 6 ft 7 in (1.7 to 2 m) tall. New chicks are fawn with dark brown spots. During the first year of life, chicks grow about 10 in (25 cm) per month. At one year of age, ostriches weigh around 100 lb (45 kilograms). Their lifespan is up to 40 or 45 years.” (Wikipedia with editing)

Common Ostrich (Struthio camelus) Foot at Riverbanks Zoo SC by Lee

Common Ostrich (Struthio camelus) Foot front at Riverbanks Zoo SC by Lee

I am not sure how tall these were, but they had to be close to 8 feet. As I was observing them, I was trying to remember all that the verses said about them. That is one reason I took pictures of their feet. I knew that their feet and legs helped  them run, but also that those same feet were a danger to their young ones. They do have big feet and with an interesting shape as you can see from the photos.

If you notice the size of their head to their body, maybe that is how the Lord “did not endow her with understanding.” The head is interesting though because they are one of the few birds that have eyelashes. They have acute eyesight and hearing, the long neck and legs keep their head up to 9 ft (2.8 m) above the ground, and their eyes are said to be the largest of any land vertebrate – 2.0 in (50 mm) in diameter; they can therefore perceive predators at a great distance. The eyes are shaded from sun light falling from above. However, the head and bill are relatively small for the birds’ huge size”

Common Ostrich (Struthio camelus) Head at Riverbanks Zoo SC by Lee

Common Ostrich (Struthio camelus) Head at Riverbanks Zoo SC by Lee

Oh, sing to the LORD a new song! Sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, bless His name; Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. (Psalms 96:1-4 NKJV)


Bible Birds – Ostrich

Birds of the Bible – Ostrich

Struthionidae – Ostriches

Ostrich – Creation Wiki

Ostrich – Wikipedia

Ostrich – The Largest Bird with the Biggest Eyes