Taking care of zoo animals in the bitter cold

Posted at 10:08 PM, Jan 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-15 00:01:10-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich -- In record-breaking cold, it's best to keep your pets indoors. But what if the animal you are caring for is a tiger?

Every winter, that's the dilemma facing zoo keepers at the John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids.

We stopped by the John Ball Zoo on Wednesday to find out how they take care of their animals in freezing temperatures. When we arrived, the tigers were going back inside for the day because they can not stay outside all night. It's too cold.  But, when they are outside during the day, they are watched. "If we saw that one was shivering or limping or had frost on his paws, we would bring him in right away," said zookeeper Paul Suplinskas.

The sting rays are already inside for the winter. Usually they have their own spot outside where people can  watch them.  But when the temperatures dip too low, the zoo moves them inside. "There is a big pool inside", said zoo keeper Shannon King. "We move them because they could freeze."

However, hibernation isn't all bad.  Shannon says now is mating season for the sting rays. "The males chase the females around. There is a lot more splashing," said King. But there is no splashing outside. The zoo is on ice right now. It's closed for the season.