Securing a shared future for wildlife and people

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Australian Sea-lions like Lexi and Mali are from southern parts of Australia, so they are fine with the colder temperatures. Marine Mammals Supervisor, Danielle Fox, said that Mali also puts on extra weight over winter to keep warm. Fur coats, extra weight and heating lamps are all part of warming up for winter for Taronga’s wildlife.

Luk Chai and Tukta
Luk Chai and Tukta unaffected by the cold.

An animal that doesn’t feel the cold are Asian Elephants. A combination of thick skin and a thin layer of fat beneath the skin mean elephants stay comfortable during the Australian winter.

“He’s already put on about 15 kilos and he’s still putting on weight. Then, over summer, he’ll lose all the extra weight.”

Sometimes we get animas brought to the Wildlife Hospital which are sick or have been injured. Possums that are brought in get to stay warm inside hand-made bags, specially knitted by kind donors.

Veterinary nurse Tammie says that because they’re nocturnal, wild possums will stay in a nest called a dray with up to 20 other possums to stay warm during the day. In the winter nights they will only come out during early evening or near dawn because it gets too cold during the night.

If you stroll past our Meerkat exhibit you’re most likely to see these animals gathered under an infrared heat lamp enjoying its glow. You might see several standing in the warmth

Reptiles like Tuka the Komodo Dragon often sit under an overhanging rock. But this is no ordinary rock! 

Reptile keeper Stuart said that Tuka’s rock contains special heat lamps, and underneath the ground is a special heating pad. So while it may be cold, underneath the rock is a toasty 30 degrees!

Stuart said, “Komodo Dragons can regulate their temperature to be around 35 degrees for around 5 hours per day.”

Meerkat and heat lamp
Meerkat enjoying an infrared heat lamp

Corroboree frogs are very comfortable in the cold. Their exhibit at Taronga is kept at 3 degrees in the morning to replicate the temperature of their native alpine bogs and ponds of Kosciuszko National Park during winter.

Corroboree Frogs are critically endangered in the wild. Taronga is working in collaboration with the Department of Education, Climate Change and Water to breed frogs to be re-introduced into the wild to ensure the future of the Corroboree frog.

Madeleine Smitham, Media Intern

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