The Minnesota Zoo's moose are now enjoying waterbeds in their holding areas as part of a research study on heat stress.
"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."
So, with water being a good conductor, zoo staff and researchers are looking to see if the waterbed will be better than the rubber mat at conducting the heat.
Two of the zoo's five holding area stalls were outfitted with waterbeds from Wisconsin-based Advanced Comfort Technology. 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.
DCC said its waterbeds have been proven to increase the comfort of dairy cows since they were implemented a decade ago.
Preliminary results of the moose study will be ready this winter.