A giraffe in the morning light. Click for more photos

A cold morning at Canberra zoo

A giraffe in the morning light. Photo: Colleen Petch

As a red panda shrugs off a sleepy night with a brisk shake of her coat, a dingo, two De Brazza monkeys and three white lions face the early morning sunlight.

In various enclosures their eyes squint to dull the brightness, but they're reluctant to move.

Wild life supervisor at Canberra's National Zoo and Aquarium Bec Scott says even though most of the animals have heated enclosures, they cannot resist their moment in the sun every day.

Camula, the dominant De Brazza, has his choice of the sunny spots, while his older mate Sam must make do with second best.

It's minus 5 degrees. The sun doesn't appear until after 7am and yet a rare Malayan sun bear is up and about on top of a wooden platform, sniffing the air for any hint of breakfast.

"Animals are quite hardy, so they have to cope with these things in the wild," Ms Scott said.

"We provide them with extra things so they have added comfort."

The zoo's three brown bears, who eat through 50 to 60kgs of food a day, cut back to about 6kgs in the dark, icy winter months.

"They want to curl up and go to sleep for 90 per cent of the day. They pop up and have a bit of a snack when they can, otherwise they're not interested," Ms Scott said.

The bears and a wombat are in no mood for early morning activity.

"I call them the teenagers of the zoo community," Ms Scott said.

"If it is dark or 7am around the time we are getting to the zoo they sort of look at us like 'why are you doing this?"'