Zookeepers work to protect Milw. Co. Zoo animals from bitter cold

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Keeping warm in the bitter cold is tough for humans -- but imagine if your ears were three feet long, or you were genetically designed to live in a desert. At the Milwaukee County Zoo -- staying warm isn't easy, and one animal in particular has it the hardest.

Thanks to hard work and some great habitats at the Milwaukee County Zoo, all the animals stay pretty comfortable through winter -- but there are a few who need some extra attention when it comes to the bitter cold.

"We have a lot of animals, especially in the North America area that are really geared for this," Laurie Talakowski said.

Those animals include wolves, moose, and mountain goats.

For their caretakers, working in the bitter cold can be a tough job!

"It's very, very cold. My eyelashes freeze together," Talakowski said.

Erin Dowgwillow works with giraffes and elephants -- who aren't used to and built for the snow and cold.

"Their feet aren't made for ice and snow. If you're cold, chances are the elephants are going to be cold," Dowgwillow said.

Being a Wisconsin transplant from say, Africa, is not easy. Zoo officials say elephants are particularly susceptible to the cold due to their thin ears.

Behind glass at the zoo, their ears are protected.

"In the winter, it's a little more difficult in that we have to think a little bit more in how to keep these guys busy," Dowgwillow said.

With wind chills at -40 the past couple days, the elephants have been couped up inside. Zookeepers work to help fight boredom -- just like with children.

"When you can't go outside and have mud or grass to eat or throw, we have to think of things to keep them busy," Dowgwillow said.

At the zoo, animals that hate winter have special enclosures, heated water and extra attention.

"We do everything we can to make them comfortable here," Talakowski said.