COAL VALLEY, Illinois – When bitter cold strikes, animals are the number on priority at the Niabi Zoo. Looking around you can tell winter is in full swing at the zoo, but inside zookeepers are hard at work – never a day off.
“We are doing today what we do every day,” says Assistant Director of Niabi Zoo, Tammy Schmidt.
“We don’t have a break, we don’t want a break because we’re responsible for them. We love our jobs,” says zookeeper, Kim Morrell.
Morrell makes sure animals, like Kenya the giraffe whose short hair is used to warmer temperatures in Africa, is prepared for the coldest conditions.
“We make sure the temperature, the heaters are working, the temperatures are in the normal range of warmth, we look at their body condition if they are shivering at all,” Morrell explains.
But across the zoo Taj and Fergie, two Bactrian camels, are made for this weather.
“You can see all the fur on their feet, they are able to disperse snow and ice when they are in those habitats,” Schmidt details.
Even though they are prepared for the winter, Taj and Fergie still need attention too.
“If it means more hay to create more energy and create that protein to get that nice warmth, more bedding, heat lamps, heated water bowls,” says Schmidt.
And even though zookeepers don’t have a day off, they are fine with that because animals bring warmth to their day.
“It’s part of the reason we are keepers is for the passion of the animals,” Morrell says.
Close to 15-20 employees came into work at the zoo today.