Moose on a Waterbed?
“Moose are traditionally bedded on rubber mats topped with straw in the zoo holding area,” said Dr. Nick McCann, Minnesota Zoo conservation biologist and author of the heat stress study. “The rubber mats may be insulating the moose – they may not allow heat to be conducted away from their bodies to the ground below. One of the questions we will ask in this study is whether the waterbed will be better than the rubber mat at conducting the heat because water is an excellent conductor of heat.”
Two of the zoo’s five holding area stalls were outfitted with DCC Waterbeds to fit the moose body size. Holding areas are large, individual stalls that moose reside in when they are not on exhibit. The moose are rotated through the holding area stalls each day where data are collected from the moose on the waterbed and the moose on the rubber mat.
“When they are in the holding area, we are trying to make them as comfortable as possible,” said McCann. The four moose are placed in the holding area so that the zookeeping staff can monitor their health and behavior, feed them, and ensure nighttime security. Keeping them cool is key to helping keep them comfortable.
“With more than a decade of superior cow-comfort performance in dairy barns around the world, we are certain that the Minnesota Zoo moose will be comfortable on DCC Waterbeds,” said Dean Throndsen, president and CEO of ACT, Inc. “And for years farmers have told us that DCC Waterbeds stay cool in the summer as they absorb the cool temperatures of the concrete they are anchored to, as well as pull heat off the cows. It is exciting for us to have a researcher, not only studying DCC Waterbeds in this new and interesting setting, but also analyzing their cooling properties in a scientific study.”
The overall objective of the study is to determine how the ambient air temperature, the bedding surface, humidity, solar radiation, and other factors combined signal to the moose that it is “hot.” Researchers are will compare how hot moose are when bedded on the waterbed surface and the rubber mats. Preliminary results of the study will be ready this winter.
The Minnesota Zoo is located in Apple Valley, just minutes south of Mall of America. For more information, call 952.431.9500 or visit mnzoo.org. The Minnesota Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and an institutional member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).