Will there be panda-monium and panda preparation at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo for the first snowfall of the season? Do pandas in their pampered lifestyle need blankets or extra heating, lest the cold keep them from being cute?
In truth, the giant pandas are perhaps the most prepared residents of Washington when it comes to winter weather.
As the region welcomes an extended pattern of colder temperatures, the National Zoo has also brought in animals that can’t handle winter weather – think tropical Komodo dragons or ring-tailed lemurs.
But most of the animals are able to thrive in outdoor winter settings, especially the zoo’s star attractions.
“The giant pandas are actually more active in the wintertime,” said zoo spokesperson Annalisa Meyer in an interview Friday. “Their indoor habitat is heated, but they come from a climate with cold winters in China, and they love to roll around in the snow.”
More from the Smithsonian’s National Zoo:
- The Zoo’s lions and tigers remain outside in the wintertime, following their normal schedules unless the temperature dips below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Once the temperature drops below this threshold, keepers assess the cats’ behavior, as well as factors such as wind chill and snowfall, to determine whether or not they should go out. Although rock dens in the exhibits are heated during very low temperatures, the tropical Sumatran tigers and lions may be kept inside.
- The Zoo’s cheetahs remain outside in the winter. Termite mounds located throughout the Cheetah Conservation Station are heated and provide the cheetahs a respite from the bite of the winter wind.
- Many of the animals on Asia Trail—including the Asian small-clawed otters—have heated rocks in their exhibit to help keep warm.