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Friday, January 22, 2016

The Perfect Storm

Starting today, the northeastern United States (home, not coincidentally, to most of the zoos and aquariums that I have worked at or reviewed thus far) is being hit by what has been dubbed Winter Storm Jonas.  I'm going to admit, I have trouble taking a storm named "Jonas" seriously, as the name just conjures up vaguely annoying boy-bands from a few years back.  But maybe that's just me.

Heavy snowfall, to but it plainly, is a bit of a pain in the ass for a zookeeper.  It makes even the most basic of tasks difficult like, say, getting to work in the first place.  Across the region tonight, there are zookeepers bunking down on break room tables, eating out of the microwave, and huddled around laptops, trying to watch bootleg DVDs while the storm rages outside.  That being said, that's what many of us do on normal nights, minus the break room table part.  If no one is staying at the zoo overnight, than the burden falls on the staff who live closest to their facilities, since they are the ones most likely to be showing up tomorrow.

Snow makes it difficult to reach animals.  It makes it difficult for animals (those outside in the winter, anyway) to reach their food and water.  More alarmingly, it can be very heavy, bringing down tree limbs or even crushing exhibits under its weight.  Sure, the birds in your aviary might be inside for the winter... but they'll be staying inside well into the spring while you repair an exhibit that's been flattened under a foot or two of snow.

As much of a nuisance as snow is, I'll take it any day over heavy cold.  Besides, it has the advantage of at least being pretty to look at, especially if you're looking at it from the vantage point of somewhere safe and warm.  And, best of all, it melts.  Say what you will about the cute squeaks and squeals baby animals make, for me, the dripping of melting snow is my favorite sound from work.

Be safe and warm everyone!

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