Animals at Chehaw adapt to cold night temperatures

Hils says Chehaw's gators hide underwater to keep warm at night, then sunbathe on the banks in the morning / Sarah Bleau

When the temperatures dip down, zoo keepers at the Chehaw Wildlife Park turn the heat up.

"For our rhinos we turn their heaters on at nighttime inside the building so they've got a little extra toasty warmth and they'll get under their heaters," says Zoo Director Kevin Hils. "Other animals that are utilizing those heaters are going to be the lemurs. You'll see some of the other birds will sometimes jump underneath those."

For other animals, Hils says they provide piles of hay for them to burrow away from the wind.

He says the alligators there have a unique system of their own.

"They can go down and hold their breath and be under the water, then they're down in the nice, warm toasty mud under the banks and they're able to survive even these cold nights that get down into the 20s and they again wait until the sun warms the banks and they jump back up," says Hils.

While some animals burrow down for the cold, other creatures at Chehaw embrace the cool weather.

"I'll tell you what cheetahs love these cool afternoons, nice and sunny, not as many bugs running around so they're out," he says.

Temperatures here will dip into the 20s and 30s the next few nights in Southwest Georgia, but Hils says it's easier to help the animals in these temperatures compared to the temperatures he saw at zoos he worked at in Ohio.

"We do have some colder nights but we don't end up having temperature where water freezes and that's when it becomes a little bit tough," says Hils.