By Hank Tester

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As South Florida prepares for the rare occurrence of temperatures dipping into the 40s, special precautions have to be taken for animals.

The chimps got blankets at Zoo Miami. The giant turtles were headed into special shelters with heated floors and heat lamps.

When it gets cold in South Florida the keepers at Zoo Miami swing into action.

Zoo spokesperson Ron Magill cautions that even elephants are sensitive to the cold, especially wind.

Plywood sheets are placed around the elephant compound to protect the huge animals from the chilly breezes.

“We have built in heat structures on concrete floors for the tortoises,” Magill said. “They are locked into the shelters when it get cold.”

The zoo animals are provided extra straw for bedding and are given extra food to build up their calorie intake to help ward off the cold. Magill that special care has to be taken with the reptiles.

Cold weather can be fatal for the cold-blooded creatures. If zoo patrons get to the zoo early after a cold snap they are likely see the chimps still playing with their blankets and the lions and tigers out romping around their areas.

“They kind of like the cold weather and they like to burn off some of the calories they have taken in preparing for the cold,” Magill said.

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