Zoo News: A breath of fresh air

With warmer temperatures prevailing for the rest of this week, the forecast is a breath of fresh air for animals and guests alike. The animals that went inside in late October are now venturing back outside to soak up some of the sunshine during this break in the winter weather. The warmer temperatures are also a welcome to the families in the area who can get out and enjoy all the outdoor activities that Minot has to offer, including the zoo.

Although transitions for some activities are not as easy to bounce back from for a short warm spell, most of the zoo’s animals are able to get back outside during the warm-up. Across the Park District, winter’s early weather set a lot of things in motion that must remain throughout the coming months until spring begins to warm things up. At the zoo, this mainly impacts the primates that require a major move to the winter holding area. However, when conditions are right, staff can open the large garage doors, providing fresh air and making them visible to guests.

With the warmer temperatures guests to the zoo will again have opportunities to see the wart hogs, okapi, and kangaroos. The lions can get back outside and if it warms up enough, we may even be able to shift the African Penguins outside. And finally, there are the giraffes, who are a welcome sight as they step out into the sunshine. Hopefully, this will be our last winter dealing with this problem as we look for ways to make these animals accessible to guests regardless of the weather.

Soon, the Park District will be advertising for construction bids for the African Plains Building. This new project will provide a large indoor enclosure for the giraffes for anytime the weather outside is not safe for them. The initial intent is to provide this indoor space for the giraffes, but over time will evolve to provide indoor housing and viewing for other African animals, including a large aviary so all these animals can enjoy a safe and spacious habitat during the winter and access to the outdoor spaces during warmer months.

The zoo is also working on a plan to create indoor viewing for the primates at their exhibits that will allow visitors to see them inside their back-up areas when the weather does not allow them to be outside, but even during the unseasonal warm days can shift straight outside to their outdoor habitats.

A bit further down the road, but still in the plans, is the African Penguin habitat. They are limited to their indoor holding during the colder months and get to enjoy the outside habitat during the summer. On the other side of the painted concrete is a third space that is referred to as the sand yard. The zoo is hoping to eventually enclose this space and to replace sections of the concrete walls with viewing windows to make them accessible year-round.

For now, we will welcome these warm days and make the best of them. With help from the community, the future will be brighter for the zoo and its animals.


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