All but 1 prairie dog at Henry Vilas Zoo did not survive winter due to flooding, extreme cold

MADISON -- The Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison is without a prairie dog exhibit after the animals, unfortunately, didn't make it through the winter. WKOW reported out of the nearly 20 animals, only one survived the winter.

Zoo officials told WMTV with the historic flooding in summer and fall 2018, the water table rose, which restricted how far the prairie dogs could burrow in the ground to keep warm. In January, the polar vortex brought record-breaking cold.

According to WMTV, zoo officials said they were working to create a new prairie dog exhibit that is resilient during extreme weather conditions.

"This is something that we really want to continue to have at the zoo,” Jess Thompson, conservation education curator told WMTV. “It's a really important species to us, and so as we look forward into what this might look like, we have actually removed our current prairie dog exhibit, knowing that it is not going to hold up to our future climate, and instead decided to expand the space for our bison so they have a bigger yard."

WKOW reported the last prairie dog would join a new colony at a different zoo.