North America weather: Canadian zoo moves penguins indoors because of cold temperatures

Calgary Zoo in Alberta, Canada, has moved its king penguins indoors: AFP/Getty
Calgary Zoo in Alberta, Canada, has moved its king penguins indoors: AFP/Getty

Temperatures have dropped so low in Canada that Calgary Zoo has had to move its penguins indoors.

As an extreme-cold warning was in effect for the country – temperatures hit a frosty -25C late this week – zookeepers thought it safer to move the penguins to their indoor enclosure.

Larissa Mark, manager of communications at Calgary Zoo told Global News that: “On cold days like this, we have to make that choice for them because it is so cold, but on other days, we do give them the option of coming in and out as they please.”

Ms Mark explained that king penguins, like the ones at Calgary zoo, are not as accustomed to sub-zero temperatures as their cousins, the emperor penguins.

King penguins, characterised by the bright orange spots on the sides of their heads and feathers at the nape of their necks, are generally found in sub-Antarctic regions in Chile and Argentina and temperate places like the Falklands, Macquarie and the Sandwich islands.

However, the cold snap has not stopped people from going to the zoo.

“Calgarians are a hardy bunch. A cup of hot chocolate and a warm fire and they are still coming out and enjoying Zoolights. Our attendance is doing well, it is on par with where we were last year,” said Ms Mark of the annual holiday-lights display event put on by the zoo.

She noted though, that some of the associated events have been moved indoors to make them more comfortable.

One visitor, Bill Robinson, was there with his two children and told Global News: “You know if the penguins are inside, that’s a sign that it’s cold outside. As long as you’re dressed for it, it’s a great time to be outside.”

Meanwhile in the US, extreme cold and hot temperatures are in effect.

The west coast saw record high temperatures. In Sandberg, California reached up to 70F (21C). In Woodland Hills, a section of Los Angeles, the sun was out in full force as residents experienced a high of 88F (31C).

Of course, much of the east coast and midwest were blanketed in snow, wind, and several layers of clothing. Erie, Pennsylvania residents were busy digging themselves out of almost five feet of snow in just one week.

The National Weather Service reported the extremes: the peak national temperature was 88F (31C) in Lake Elsinore, California and the coldest place in the country hit -38F (-39C) in upstate New York near the Canadian border.

Us President Donald Trump took the opportunity of frigid temperatures to hit out at climate change.

“In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record,” Mr Trump tweeted.

He wrote: “Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!"

The President appeared to be referencing the US role in Paris Agreement on climate change, signed by nearly 200 countries in an effort to stem carbon emissions and contain global warming to 2C.

Mr Trump had begun the US withdrawal process in June.