By Ryan Duffy
First Coast News
2/16/2007 11pm report
JACKSONVILLE, FL –When the king of the jungle has to come in, you know it’s cold.
Friday night the African plains and grasslands of South America habitats were empty at the Jacksonville Zoo as zookeepers moved animals inside.
“I’d say 75 to 80 percent of animals will be inside tonight. Animals native to Florida, panther, black bear, those will stay outside,” says zookeeper Brett Smith.
Zookeepers expect six hours of freeze Friday night.
That’s why Smith is leading confused giraffes and elephants into heated rooms.
The lions don’t seem happy about it, but they get special heaters, extra hay and stay inside.
“Just like the humans, we get used to being in Florida and being really warm, so we’re less cold tolerant, the animals feel that way too,” says Smith.
The bats are especially sensitive to cold.
Bird supervisor Robin Lentz spent the afternoon rounding them up into this indoor cage.
“They don’t have a lot of blood supply in their wing membranes so they are more susceptible to frostbite,” says Lentz.
But the other birds will stay outside tonight with heaters and heating pads.
Most of the animals can handle one or two cold nights, but when it extends into weeks of cold it starts to ruffle feathers.
“If there are multiple nights, 2 to 3 nights, then we start getting concerned for the birds. We’ll capture them and move them into buildings,” says Lentz.