Advanced Comfort Technology (ACT), Inc., recently donated DCC Waterbeds for use in the moose holding area of the Minnesota Zoo as part of a zoo-led research study on heat stress. “Moose are traditionally bedded on rubber mats topped with straw in the zoo holding area,” said Nick McCann, 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.

"One of the questions we will ask in this study is whether the waterbed will be better than the rubber mat at conducting the heat because water is an excellent conductor of heat.”

Two of the zoo’s five holding area stalls were outfitted with cow waterbeds to fit the moose body size. Holding areas are large, individual stalls that moose reside in when they are not on exhibit.

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.

The overall objective of the study is to determine how the ambient air temperature, the bedding surface, humidity, solar radiation, and other factors combined signal to the moose that it is “hot.” Researchers will compare how hot moose are when bedded on the waterbed surface and the rubber mats.

Preliminary results of the study will be ready this winter.

McCann said that the researchers were looking at small animal waterbeds at first but decided that cow waterbeds could be better adapted to the zoo's large-animal setting. PD

—From Advanced Comfort Technology, Inc., news release

A moose at the Minnesota Zoo rests on a DCC Waterbed. Photo courtesy of Advanced Comfort Technology, Inc.