ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) – Winter weather can wreak havoc at the Mill Mountain Zoo.

With the zoo being at the top of Mill Mountain in Roanoke, it’s increasingly susceptible to the harsh elements of winter, versus other places around the city.

At Mill Mountain Zoo, the vulnerable animals depend on their keepers for food and medication year-round – including in adverse weather conditions.

Power must be monitored to assure that the animals are housed at the right temperature so they do not get too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer.

High winds are also a concern because of the potential for power outages and tree limbs that could fall, possibly compromising an enclosure or the property line that keeps the animals inside of the zoo.

In order to protect the animals, zoo officials take precautions in the animal department and within the facility itself.

Tree limbs are trimmed, generators are fueled, tested and strategically placed. Plus, every pathway is salted throughout the zoo grounds.

Chainsaws and a snowblower are always at the ready and staff are trained on how to use them.

Before Sunday’s storm, four staff members at Mill Mountain Zoo, including the animal program director, two zookeepers, and the executive director all headed up to the zoo and stayed the night until the threatening weather passed.

Even now, staffers are at the zoo feeding, providing medications and escorting them into their night houses until the wind lessens to keep them safe and warm.