Detroit Zoo closed Wednesday due to extreme cold temperatures

Polar bears enjoying cold temperatures

DETROIT – When temperatures become frigid, humans have to be careful and so do animals at the Detroit Zoo. Experts take the well-being of the animals very seriously.

Nuka and Suka are two polar bears who live at the Detroit Zoo. They may be the only two beings in Metro Detroit enjoying these subzero temperatures. 

“They are well-equipped to deal with really, really frigid temps,” Dr. Stephanie Allard, director of animal welfare at the Detroit Zoological Society, said. “They were even enjoying a dip in the pool earlier today.”

For polar bears, seals and wolverines, below-freezing temperatures are no big deal. But for other animals, they could be dangerous. 

Allard said the experts at the zoo go case by case, species by species to make decisions. They watch the weather, check the temperatures and then make their determinations on whether to bring the animals inside. 

“We  don’t use a specific magic number (for temperature). We pay attention to the behavior of animals and let them tell us what they need,” she said. 

For instance, the giraffes can’t stay outside, so they are inside enjoying the indoors. So are countless other animals. 

“The great apes and the rhinos -- those are two examples of animals enjoying their indoor spaces in temperatures like this," Allard said.

Usually, people could come and visit the zoo and see those animals, even while they are indoors, but the Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Center will be closed on Wednesday during Michigan’s deep freeze.

It may also be closed on Thursday if conditions remain the same. 

For up-to-date information on the Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Center, go to

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