A screech owl perches on the hand of Clarissa Josselyn, a naturalist at Oxbow Park and Zollman Zoo.
By David Richards
It might be wintertime, but Oxbow Park and Zollman Zoo are still open.
Open, for instance, not for camping, but for cross country skiing, snow shoeing and for animal watching even though the bear sleeps more now.
"It's a park for people to use," said Clarissa Josselyn, naturalist at Oxbow.
As far as the skiing and the snow shoeing, Oxbow now offers ski equipment for use on the park's two and a half miles of groomed trails.
Park officials purchased the equipment through a state grant and donations.
Cost is $5 for skis, boots and poles and $3 for snow shoes. Hours of rentals are from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily.
"The last couple of weekends have been a little cold, but when it's nice, we've had a lot of people," Josselyn said.
As far as Zollman Zoo goes this winter, the facility that showcases Minnesota native animals is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Josselyn said the frigid cold hasn't affected the animals, although park officials give them more access to their back kennels to keep warm than compared with the summertime, when most of the animals stay up in the front of their cages.
True hibernating animals, Josselyn said, such as the snakes, turtle and salamander are kept indoors and don't hibernate at the zoo.
The turkey vulture is kept in the barn because that species usually migrates for the winter. And despite what your elementary school teacher may have told you, the bear isn't a true hibernating animal, Josselyn said, although it does sleep more in the winter and is rarely seen by visitors.
"What does a bear usually have with her in the spring?" she asked.
"New cubs, so do you think a bear would sleep through that?"
Other animals, large carnivores for instance, are more active at the zoo in the winter, animals such as the coyote, wolf, bobcat and cougar because their heavy fur is made for the colder months and they feel more comfortable.
The Fisher was overly active on Thursday of last week running around in circles, but not because it has thick, heavy fur.
"When snow removal gets here, she gets a little wound up," Josselyn said.