“We have set specific weather parameters for the walk to ensure the birds’ safety and welfare,” the zoo said in a statement on Tuesday. “We will resume the Penguin Walk when the parameters are met.”
Government forecasters in Canda have issued extreme cold warnings for the city of Calgary for most of the week as the multi-day episode of “very cold wind chills” is forecast to last through the week.
The Calgary Zoo has been forced to cancel its daily penguin walk due to bitterly cold temperatures.
(The Calgary Zoo)
Wind chills are expected to range between negative 49 degrees Fahrenheit and 58 degrees below zero.
“If it’s too cold for you to stay outside, it’s too cold for your pet to stay outside,” forecasters stated Wednesday morning. “Extreme cold warnings are issued when very cold temperatures or wind chill creates an elevated risk to health such as frost bite and hypothermia.”
Some of that bitterly cold air is making its way across the border into the northern tier of the U.S., where some locations were seeing temperatures well below zero, according to Fox News Meteorologist Adam Klotz.
Bitter cold conditions were reported in Canada and along the northern tier of the country on Wednesday morning.
“The big story right now, boy is it cold running across portions of the Northern Plains,” Klotz said Wednesday on “Fox & Friends.” “Negative 23 degrees windchill in Fargo as we speak.”
The penguin walk typically runs between January and late March when conditions are suitable, according to the zoo.
In reply to comments on Facebook, the Calgary Zoo said it has weather parameters set up for the welfare of the king penguins. When temperatures go above 41 degrees Fahrenheit or drop below negative 13 degrees, it can create “physiological stress” on the birds.
The Calgary Zoo said that extreme cold puts “physiological stress” on king penguins, which are native to the sub-Antarctic and not adapted to the bitter cold.
(The Calgary Zoo)
“Though they might be able to physically withstand the cold, it wouldn’t be healthy for them in the long term,” the zoo said.
King penguins are native to the Subantarctic, where temperatures do not get as extreme as in the Antarctic. The Subantarctic is a region just outside the Antarctic Circle where conditions are more hospitable.
“While the birds can indeed withstand the lower temperatures, it is not good for their overall welfare to be outside in such extreme conditions,” the zoo said on Facebook.
Emperor penguins, however, are more well-adapted to the extreme cold.
The extreme cold snap in the Calgary metro area has caused schools to cancel classes and homeless shelters to fill to capacity, as people are urged to stay inside, CTV News reported.