Animal Moments

Guanaco Weather

January 19, 2008

It was clear and five degrees F this morning at the Zoo. Many of the animals were indoors, even those who sometimes choose to be out in inclement weather. Despite the cold I took my camera, and I got photos of some Zoo residents who are well adapted to the season.

 Lama guanicoe

The guanaco (Lama guanicoe), sometimes called a “humpless camel,” is a North American species of the Camelidae, and a cousin of the domestic llama. They are found from southern Peru down to Tierra del Fuego. As you can see from the dense coat, guanacos can tolerate the worst that southeast Michigan can offer. This animal seems to be saying, “Me? Cold? Nah! I’m a guanaco!”


Ursus maritimus

I saw Norton out for his morning ramble, if you can call how this Polar bear moves a “ramble.” It is more of a schlepp. This guy is not in a hurry. He’s just looking around, taking a drink from his pool, and moving kind of slow. After all, Norton is not fazed by the cold. The breeze that frosts my face is probably refreshing to him. Soon he’ll lie down in the sun and sleep through the afternoon.

 Macaca fuscata

Five snow monkeys (Macaca fuscata; aka japanese macaque) looked cozy against a sun-lit wall. This species lives further north than any other nonhuman primate. Native to the high-elevation forests of Japan (where the annual temperatures range between 5 and 75 degrees F), these animals do well in Michigan’s climate extremes. It doesn’t matter how cold it is as long as the sun is shining.

Panthera tigris altaica

Good morning, tigirls! These four-and-a-half-year old sisters were born right here in the Detroit Zoo. The Siberian, or Amur, tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) is extremely endangered, with a single surviving wild population in the far eastern corner of Siberia. Siberian tigers are adapted to temperatures down -40 F. As far away as I was from the girls, I could almost feel the warmth radiating from their gorgeous coats.