updated 1/23/2012 11:49:49 AM ET 2012-01-23T16:49:49

Last week, life in much of Seattle came to a standstill.

A huge winter storm  walloped the region with piles of snow, closing roads and schools, canceling hundreds of flights, and downing power lines. On Friday (Jan. 20), hundreds of thousands of people were still without power, according to local news reports.

Yet in spite of the city's troubles, many people appeared to be taking advantage of their snowy predicament. Pictures and videos of people sliding down snowy hillsides and playing in piles of the white stuff popped up all over the Web.

And at the local zoo, it appears that some of the animals were doing the same. Although the winter weather closed down the Woodland Park Zoo  on Wednesday and Thursday, many of its residents were out in full force — along with zoo photographers, who captured some of the creatures' antics on camera.

"Most [of the animals] have indoor/outdoor access, which means they can choose if they want to stay inside or go out and explore the snow," zoo spokeswoman Rebecca Whitham told OurAmazingPlanet in an email.

"For the animals of our Northern Trail exhibit — including wolves, grizzly bears  and elk — they are much more likely to brave the snow since they are well-adapted to these weather conditions," she said.

But it wasn't just the usual suspects who headed out into the winter wonderland. Some rather unexpected critters decided to investigate the new landscape. Otters, birds and more surprising creatures also ventured out. [ See photos of the animals in the snow here. ]

And, in a strange coincidence, an Arctic animal never before seen in the region — albeit one that is well acquainted with ice and snow — recently paid a visit to the city. The rare  ribbon seal appeared on a Seattle resident's property ahead of the storm, and hasn't been seen since.

The zoo is reopened on Friday (Jan. 20), but was a bit shorthanded, Whitham said. Many Seattle roads were still clogged with wet slush.

Although the winter weather is loosening its grip on Seattle, much of the rest of the country is now getting a taste. Snow is blanketing more than 40 percent of the lower 48 states, according to the National Weather Service, at an average depth of 4 inches (10 centimeters).

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