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It was a snow day for animals, too

The animals at Riverbanks Zoo had fun in the snow last weekend, including a gorilla who made a snowball, then brought it inside and ate it.

"He was as excited about the snow as everyone else," said Jamie Cathcart Rood of Charleston, who photographed the gorilla playing with the snow and posted the photo on thestate.com.

Zoo volunteer photographer Richard Rokes caught a baboon picking up and tasting the snow, and he snapped pictures of lions and tigers and grizzly bears exploring snowy habitats. Click the gallery of Rokes' photos with this story.

John Davis, Riverbanks' curator of mammals, said keepers cleared paths in the snow in exhibits and allowed animals to explore if they chose to on Saturday, when the zoo was closed to the public.

"It was a pretty enriching experience for them," Davis said. "It hasn't snowed like that in a long time. The animals were curious about it."

Only animals that are cold-sensitive (such as koalas) or at risk for serious injury if they slipped and fell (elephants and giraffes) were kept inside early Saturday. The elephants and giraffes went out later in the day as the snow melted.

While it's not typical behavior for a gorilla to make a snowball, that's only because they don't typically see snow. They do routinely gather food or anything that interests them in a motion similar to cradling a snowball, and they often bring those items inside their exhibit to examine them, Davis said.

Video: Flamingos in the snow

Video by Matt Croxton, courtesy of Riverbanks Zoo

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