As large swaths of the United States face extreme heat this summer, zoos across the country are taking a variety of steps to lessen its impact on their animals.
“On days when it’s 99 degrees, it makes our job difficult for these animals who are used to living in cold environments to keep them cool,” Pete Costello, assistant curator of the New York Zoo’s Stone Zoo, told NPR. -England.
The zoo is about 20 miles north of Boston, where record heat is scorching the city. Already on the second heat wave of the summer, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu declared a heat emergency earlier this week through Sunday.
Stone Zoo tries to curb the effects of these dangerous temperatures, especially for animals accustomed to the cold, such as snow leopards.
“What we do with the snow leopards in this situation is they have a holding building that’s built on the side of their exhibit, and that holding building is air-conditioned,” Costello said.
The fans were one of the easiest ways for the zoo’s reindeer, used to living near the Arctic Circle, to cool off, according to Costello.
Ice blocks and pools help animals stay cool
The pools have also helped some animals. Stone Zoo will refill the water in the pool each morning for the animals to ensure it is at least 10-15 degrees cooler than the water that was left there overnight. The zoo will also douse the animals or spray them with water.
“We will just empty the bins and fill them with water, sometimes put ice in them, all day for them,” he added.
Costello said ice is a quick way to cool animals. Seymour, the zoo’s jaguar, enjoyed a meat-filled block of ice cream inside earlier this week.
“You can just take some of his feed, which is usually just a little bit of meat, and you freeze it in a five-gallon bucket overnight, and then in the morning you just put it in his pool,” did he declare. said.
Stone Zoo also gives away Seymour Ice Blocks which are sprinkled with some of his favorite flavors – pumpkin pie spice is his favorite right now.
“So you could…just take a regular bag of ice cubes, throw them on the floor, and then put the pumpkin pie spice in there, and it’ll rub on it and stuff to help cool it down,” he said.
Animals also have shelters, which are positioned with the sun in mind.
“The reindeer shelter is positioned so that when that strong afternoon sun hits it, that shelter is completely shaded,” Costello said.
The Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, DC, is also tackling extreme animal heat.
“Most animals that can be outdoors are offered a year-round choice – to go out or stay in their indoor exhibit. Most indoor exhibits are cooled with AC in the summer and warmed with heat in the winter,” according to a statement from the 25th July.
The Smithsonian also said its giant pandas have air-conditioned, water-cooled caves, and spend most of their hot days indoors because their thick fur makes the heat unbearable.
The zoo also fills ice cubes with fruit inside for a cool summer treat.
“Many animals are offered fruit as enrichment, which can be especially refreshing at this time of year,” the Smithsonian said.
“Fruits are popsicles – they are usually frozen diluted fruit juices with fresh cut pieces of fruit. Gorillas, elephants and other bears also enjoy these treats,” the statement added, explaining that the animals receive these treats all year round.
The zoo also said certain animals can use their outdoor pools, such as Andean bears, pandas, lions, tigers and otters.