Keeper's diary - January 2009
This month we have been busy keeping all our animals warm during the Arctic temperatures we have been experiencing recently.
Apart from our two Bactrian camels who are well adapted to deal with extreme cold, and the group of Patagonian Mara who share the 'Meet the Monkeys' enclosure with the squirrel monkeys, most of the animals kept on Mammals South are from tropical or sub-tropical environments.
Although they are used to living in this climate and live happily at the zoo, special considerations have to be made at this time of year.
On 'Outback', new shelters have been put up and filled with thick beds of straw to make life more comfortable for the emus and the wallaby group during their first winter in London.
Extra straw bedding and all-day access to heated dens has been provided for both the group of nine bearded pigs and our pair of lowland anoa, and the ice that has built up on the ponds in both enclosures has had to be broken up daily.
Thug and Nicola, the pygmy hippos, have been blissfully unaware of the freezing cold as they have been spending all day wallowing in the heated water of their indoor hot tub.
The heating has been turned up for all the primate groups in their indoor areas, and extra bedding provided, as they have all been spending much more time indoors, and some, such as the Hanuman langurs are even reluctant to go outside temporarily whilst their dens are being cleaned!
Although the bulk of all our primate diets are made up of raw fruit and vegetables, they have been allowed some seasonal treats - such as warm potatoes, which they have been very happy to receive!
Keeping the monkeys warm is especially important for the groups of black and white colobus, white-naped mangabeys and black crested macaques, as we were lucky enough to have two youngsters born into each group last year and they are all still quite young and vulnerable.
Hopefully the temperature will rise soon!
More next month