Our weather constantly changes. During a severe weather situation, we seek shelter, but what about the zoo animals? I’m at the Detroit Zoo to find out. Our friend Tami at the Detroit Zoo explains the importance of knowing the local daily weather forecast.

Tami Brightrall, Associate Curator of Mammals at the Detroit Zoo, “In general zookeepers check the weather often. We have weather apps on our phones, we look at the forecast at night and in the morning because it really does matter what the temperatures are for what animals have access to the habitats, or what kind of day, in general, we’re going to have. Whether we turn on misters or provide a heater for the animals it really depends on the forecast. So when zookeepers arrive in the morning, they check the weather and make sure the parameters are right for each species because they all have different parameters, and they all have different needs.”

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Depending on the severity of the storm threat, workers at the Detroit Zoo will adjust accordingly.

Tami Brightrall, Associate Curator of Mammals at the Detroit Zoo, “So say the meteorologists have said today there’s going to be severe storms in your area, it’s a high probability, then we would prepare by accessing animals to indoor habitats. If it was a severe storm warning, we might even lock them inside. For example, we would open the door, the chimpanzees would come inside, and we would shut the door until the threat of the storm was over. If it was something more uncertain, more mild. We might just give them a choice, because frankly, animals are very adaptable and very smart, so they would make good choices, if that makes any sense. So an aardvark would go under a tunnel or a giraffe would go in the barn and kind of wait the storm out. It just depends on the species, but most animals are into self-preservation and making sure they are safe and they do make good choices.”

Now say a storm does pass through the area, staff will check the facility to make sure everything is in a safe condition.

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“The zookeepers will go out and check the safety of the area. Did a limb fall? Did a  moat drain get clogged and then water rose in the moat causing a way to get across it? Those kinds of things, a guest may not think about, but we do check all those of things. We check for safety we make sure is the habitat okay? Is there a big mud pit that a giraffe could slip in something like that? And we fix it and we call landscape if we need them to chainsaw a log for us or something and then we get everyone out as quickly as possible. And they are usually pretty fast, and we get everything squared away pretty quickly.” Tami Brightrall, Associate Curator of Mammals at the Detroit Zoo.

With our varying weather patterns here in Michigan knowing the weather is very important.

Tami Brightrall, Associate Curator of Mammals at the Detroit Zoo, “We appreciate people that forecast weather and we like learning about it because it really does matter so much to the animal’s care. They’re all individual animals and we here, at the Detroit Zoo meet the need for every animal.”


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Being in severe season, it’s always best to have a plan. Whether you’re in public like the Detroit Zoo or at home. I’m Meteorologist Kylee Miller.