Climate change could mean tougher winter months in two Smithsonian museums in Washington — the National Zoo and its Zoological Park.
Temperatures in February, March and April would be well above normal at both, Smithsonian officials said Thursday. The zoo is already adapting.
Zoo scientists are converting a snow-covered conservation area known as the Pearl Park to houses for tropical birds. Besides the better weather, that’s a budget savings: In the winter of 2008-09, visitors to the Pearl Park faced a $10 admission fee to access the zoo.
Temperatures in both years are forecast to rise between 2 and 4 degrees Fahrenheit. Scientists use a computer model to determine how much warming a specific location will get, since a change in just 2 or 3 degrees can fundamentally change the atmosphere.
Some animals are more vulnerable to warmer temperatures than others, and scientists have determined that the zoo and its African rock iguanas are vulnerable because they live in warm temperatures. If the animals move out of the heat, the zoological park can find them a new habitat in the conservation area.