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CNN Today

Chicago Nearing Record Total for December Snowfall

Aired December 29, 2000 - 4:19 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: The snow has been coming down today in the Chicago area. Let's check in now with CNN Chicago bureau chief Jeff Flock, who heard it was all happening at the zoo, so that's where he headed -- Jeff.

JEFF FLOCK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You got it, Lou. You know, it's not much. It's only 3, perhaps 5 inches in Chicago, and boy, in this town, that's nothing. But you know, it all does add up as we take you around the zoo and show you some of the people that really don't care so much about this weather.

We can tell you perhaps when it is done falling today this will become the snowiest December in Chicago history. We're told that today at the start of business 30 inches had fallen so far. That was the worst-snowiest December since 1951, and the record, 33 inches, could be eclipsed. And we thought what better place to come out and see what's happening than at the zoo.

Mark Rosenthal is the curator, like what we're looking at here. What are we seeing? This is feeding time at the zoo.

MARK ROSENTHAL, LINCOLN PARK ZOO: Feeding time for the Gray seals and the harbor seals. Just like the post office, every day we -- regardless of winter or summer or rain or snow -- they have three feedings and training sessions for the seals.

FLOCK: How -- how has the snow affected you here at the zoo?

ROSENTHAL: Well, it's affected us in that we really have to keep things clear and clean for the visitors that come to the zoo, and we have to make some preliminary things that we do for some of the animals, making sure that those that need access inside if it's start to get cold have it. Things like that.

FLOCK: We -- you know, we want to look -- take a look at this. As we see, you've got swans out there, ducks. Some of these animals like it OK. Other ones don't -- are not that crazy about it.

ROSENTHAL: Right. We certainly have a number of animals that are warm-weather animals and they're going to stay in for the duration of the cold weather. But those that like it are out, and then those that kind of can take it we give them access.

So the cheetahs really are not cold-weather animals, but they have a warm place to go, and just like someone skiing, you go out in the snow, you get a little cold, you go in, they'll do the same thing.

FLOCK: Now, someone asked earlier about how hot is in this. Is this like a hot tub for these seals, or what's the temperature out here?

ROSENTHAL: Well, you can see the steam coming up from the water, so the temperature of the water is absolutely warmer. It's 51 degrees in the water. So it's pretty comfortable for the seals, and they have that layer.

FLOCK: It's well below freezing out here right now.

ROSENTHAL: Right. Oh no, we're fairly cold. We're having a great time. But we're cold. And the seals with their layer of blubber and the warm water having a great time.

FLOCK: Mark, I appreciate it. Thanks for the free pass to the zoo today. We appreciate it.

A snowy Chicago, as we said. When it's done, it could be the snowiest December in Chicago history.

And you know, we've got another number for you just for fun: 140,000 tons of salt on the street so far. That because of the heavy snow and the cold in December in Chicago.

We'll keep watching. I'm Jeff Flock, CNN, reporting live from the Lincoln Park Zoo, where it's still feeding time.

WATERS: All right, Jeff.

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