Jerboa in the Moscow zoo are taken out of cold storage

April 10
Parks and pedestrian areas

The Moscow zoo jerboa are brought out of hibernation. They were kept in a special cooling chamber for five months where the temperature is maintained at two to four degrees above zero.

Wild relatives of these animals hibernate at different times. It depends on the air temperature outside and availability of food. If food is plentiful jerboa continue to feed until it gets colder. If food is in short supply they fall asleep, so as not to spend the fat reserves accumulated in summer. As a rule, these animals go into hibernation when the temperature is about four degrees centigrade.

There are three jerboa in the Moscow Zoo — two small ground hares and one large animal. In order to simulate the natural change of the season zoologists were gradually lowering the temperature in the enclosure in autumn and also offered a high-calorie diet to the animals. Jerboa ate a grain mixture with sunflower seeds and gained enough body weight for prolonged hibernation.

They were sent to cooling chambers in December. The rodents were placed there in wooden boxes covered with foam rubber. While the jerboa slept, their body temperature dropped from 37 to about four degrees Celsius, and their heart rate decreased from 300 to 5-6 beats per minute.

“Throughout the winter specialists constantly monitored the well-being and weight of the animals. When they lost about a quarter of their weight and reached the summer weight levels they should be waken up. Zookeepers carefully removed the boxes from the cooling chambers and moved the jerboa to the enclosures with little houses. There they will gradually warm up and soon become more active”, said Svetlana Akulova, General Director of the Moscow Zoo.

The jerboa diet now includes light food: apples, carrots and fresh herbs. The animals are temporarily absent from the zoo's exposition as their enclosure is being rebuilt to provide the animals with more comfortable conditions.

Marmots were the first to come out of hibernation in the Moscow Zoo. This year they slept longer than usual due to cold and snowy winter. The male Archie is showing up out of the burrow to explore his possessions and bask in the sun. Visitors can see him in the outdoor part of the enclosure in the morning and in the afternoon. The female Sarah is also appearing on the surface from time to time but the other female Nagayna still stays in a warm burrow.

Raccoons, bears and a raccoon dogs also woke up. The Moscow Zoo soon expects chipmunks, white-breasted hedgehogs and dormice to awake soon.


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