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      Riverbanks protecting animals from cold snap

      COLUMBIA (WACH) " Employees at Riverbanks Zoo say they are working overtime to help keep their animal residents warm.We want to keep them safe and comfortable through this weather, said Mammal Curator John Davis.Davis says the zoo has heated dens for animals with outside exhibits.He also says many of the animals are on special diets.

      "We prepare the animals nutritionally for environments such as this. The grizzly bears have put on quite a few pounds. They have large thick winter coats and they have plenty of body fat to keep them warm during these temperatures," said Davis.The birds at Riverbanks are also getting the special treatment.We hang up heat boxes and we pretty much wrap everybody up like a cocoon, said Bird Keeper Lisa Signorino.Signorino says she puts up plastic curtains around the bird cages to block the wind and keep in the heat.

      She also says staying prepared for changes in the weather is half the battle " especially when it comes unexpectedly.It TMs a pretty cold stretch. Usually this doesn TMt happen until February when we really have to start pulling the curtains, said Signorino.