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Winter’s a time to shine for cold-weather animals

The 20-foot tree in Flamingo Plaza and festive décor around Zoo Atlanta are signs that the holiday break is here, but the arrival of winter also brings opportunities to appreciate the adaptations and behaviors of many of the Zoo’s most visible winter-weather animals.

Chilean flamingo chicks: The nine Chilean flamingo chicks hatched in late summer recently made their debut in the Zoo’s Wonderful Wetlands area. The chicks, who will become part of the Zoo’s Ambassador Animals program, still display juvenile grey coloration that makes them easily distinguishable from the members of the large adult flock in Flamingo Plaza. Zoo Atlanta has one of the most successful programs in the U.S. for this species, which inhabits high elevations in the southern Andes Mountains where temperature conditions may vary dramatically.

Giant pandas: The only giant panda twins in the U.S., Ya Lun and Xi Lun, and their parents, Lun Lun and Yang Yang, are frequently seen in their outdoor habitats on some of Atlanta’s coldest days. Native to cool, high-elevation mountain forests in China, giant pandas have dense, woolly, slightly oily coats that make them well-adapted for winter weather. When not using their outdoor habitats, the giant pandas may be found in their climate-controlled indoor dayroom areas at The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Giant Panda Conservation Center.  

Huacaya alpacas: Tuscany, Warrior and Smurf, who arrived at the Zoo in late spring 2018, are also well-adapted for cooler temperatures. Their most noticeable trait is their soft fleece, also called fiber. The Huacaya alpaca is one of two breeds of alpacas, South American domesticated members of the camel family that are related to llamas. Find Tuscany, Warrior and Smurf next door to the petting zoo in the Orkin Children’s Zoo.  

Red panda: Idgie the red panda is one of the Zoo’s biggest fans of winter weather. Native to the Himalayas, red pandas have thick undercoats that protect them from the winter elements. Find Idgie in a newly-renovated habitat in the Zoo’s Asian Forest complex.

Click here to learn more and plan a visit during the holiday break. The Zoo is closed on Christmas Day.

Zoo Atlanta 
800 Cherokee Avenue, S.E.
Atlanta, GA  30315


Rachel Davis, Director of Communications
404.624.2812 – office 
404.309.2238 – cell

Gavin Johnson, Public Relations and Communications Specialist
404.624.5980 – office

About Zoo Atlanta
Viewed as one of the finest zoological institutions in the U.S. and a proud accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Zoo Atlanta has a mission to inspire value and preservation of wildlife through a unique mix of education and outdoor family experiences. From well-known native wildlife to critically endangered species on the brink of extinction, the Zoo offers memorable close encounters with more than 1,000 animals from around the world. Zoo highlights include giant pandas, including Ya Lun and Xi Lun, a set of twins born to Lun Lun on September 3, 2016; one of North America’s largest zoological populations of great apes; and a global center of excellence for the care and study of reptiles and amphibians. Scaly Slimy Spectacular: The Amphibian and Reptile Experience, featuring more than 70 species in a 111,000 square-foot complex, is the world’s first LEED Gold-certified reptile and amphibian exhibit. The Zoo’s newest experience, Treetop Trail presented by Kaiser Permanente, opened in March 2017. Up-close-and-personal animal experiences include behind-the-scenes Wild Encounters with African elephants, African lions, Aldabra giant tortoises and giant pandas. Zoo Atlanta is open year-round with the exceptions of Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Keeper talks, interactive wildlife presentations, education programs and special events run year-round. For more information, visit

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