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Melbourne Zoo innovations keep animals warm through winter

Melbourne Zoo innovations keep animals warm through winter
July 15, 2019

Innovative tools and strategies have been deployed by Melbourne’s Zoo’s to help keep its animals of all ages, warm, comforted and active.

Wild Sea Life Sciences Manager Adrian Howard said many of the animals at Melbourne Zoo are native to tropical climates, so it is important to cater for their needs.

Howard commented: “A lot of it doesn’t appear obvious to the eye, but many of the exhibits have custom-designed facilities that help keep the animals warm.”

For the zoo’s ageing 18-year-old Asian Small-clawed Otter, Oscar, a heated hideaway cave and heated pool are important for the management of his arthritis.

Howard added: “Just like people, ageing animals feel any aches and pains a little bit more in the cold. So these facilities help us to care for Oscar and manage his age-related condition in the best possible way.”

Elsewhere in the zoo, its largest animals - the Asian Elephants, are enjoying the hot water drinkers that have been installed in their exhibits. Eight-year-old Mali regularly scoops the heated water onto her body with her trunk to give herself a steamy hot shower.

For the zoo’s reptiles, new thermal imaging technology is helping to inform keepers about heat distribution throughout a reptile’s body and within their surrounding environment.

Reptile Zookeeper Alex Mitchell said a handheld thermal imaging camera, which produces images using colour, was providing invaluable and detailed insights about various species including snakes, lizards and Giant Tortoises.

“This technology enables keepers to fine-tune heating facilities such as lamps and heated flooring in reptile exhibits to help us provide an optimum climate for them,” noted Mitchell.

The innovative heating facilities and tools used at Melbourne Zoo help to provide all animals with the highest quality care and welfare.

Images: Asian Elephants give themselves hot showers at Melbourne Zoo (top), an Asian Small-clawed Otter in a heated hideaway cave at Melbourne Zoo (middle) and Zookeepers use thermal imaging technology to monitor the body temperature of their animals (below). All images courtesy of Zoos Victoria.

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