Cold weather challenge for Tucson's Reid Park Zoo

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- Earlier this month, it wasn't just homeowners dealing with abnormally cold weather.

A blast of winter weather impacted the Reid Park Zoo.  And it wasn't just the animals that needed protecting.

Vegetation of all types greets visitors to the Reid Park Zoo, plants designed to mimic a jungle, a forest and even the desert.

"When you come to the zoo it puts you into a kind of feeling that you are in the habitat that the animals are," said Reid Park Zoo Curator Jim Schnormeier.

Those habitats were hit pretty hard earlier this month, thanks to sub-freezing temperatures.

"So when we have this cold it does take a lot out on our tropical plants at this point in time we really don't know the damage is to be," said Schnormeier.

Zoo officials hope the damage is minimal and that the vegetation will begin to grow back this Spring.

If it doesn't, replacing the frozen flora could take time and money,

"If they won't come back we could be a couple of years before we get back to the position we were in 6 months ago with our plant collection, its unfortunate and expensive," said Schnormeier.

As for the animals, the zoo was prepared for cool temperatures but they still posed a bit of a challenge.

"Many of the facilitates do have heat, but its more to take the chill off them, then it is to deal with those kind of temperatures," said Schnormeier.

One of the concerns here at the Reid Park Zoo when the temperatures became very chilly is the birds because they are kept in this open area right behind me.

"But again because the temps were so cold we really had some difficulty creating the warm spots," said Schnormeier.

The zoo was able to put larger animals in heated housing.