Lollipops and Air-Conditioned Bedrooms: Here’s How Zoos Keep Animals Cool in a Heat Wave

By Amia Henry and Christina Maxuris, CNN

With temperatures soaring across much of the United States as the oppressive heat wave continues, zoos are taking special measures to keep their animals cool.

Think: frozen insect popsicles, mud showers and long pool days. You know, the basics.

At the Smithsonian National Zoo, swamp monkeys are usually given yogurt popsicles on hot days and bison are euthanized, while vultures take cool baths.

In Houston, Texas, where temperatures hit more than triple figures last week, there are buckets of ice, frozen treats for sea lions and goats at the Houston Zoo, and cold showers for turtles.

And when things go wrong very Heated animals are taken to their air-conditioned bedrooms.

Here’s how other zoos keep their residents comfortable.

Frozen Dessert and Mud in Rhode Island

When the weather is hot in Providence, Rhode Island, the Roger Williams Park Zoo gives its animals more opportunities to seek out the best shaded spots or venture indoors with fans and air conditioning, said Vicki Scharfberg, a spokeswoman for the zoo.

And that’s not all: Animals are able to cool off in mud or fresh water, and even get frozen rewards, Scharfberg said.

“And there are also things we don’t do,” Scharfberg added. “We avoid any routine medical examinations during extreme temperatures. Animal care managers and custodians also avoid introducing new animals during extreme weather conditions.”

Vampires in Massachusetts

The staff at Zoo New England — which operates Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo and Stone Zoo in Stoneham — know exactly what to do when temperatures start to soar: frozen goodies.

At Franklin Park Zoo, gorillas get ice from diluted fruit juice and berries, while spotted hyenas enjoy ice from cow blood and water, Zoo New England spokesperson Colin McCormick Blair told CNN.

Meanwhile, a spokesman said the ring-tailed lemur is being given frozen insects. The animals there also enjoy the luxury of misting and other cooling mechanisms including sprinklers and pools.

Similar techniques are helping to keep the animals cool at Stone Zoo, including sprays, extra fans and ice treatments, as well as spending time indoors, Blair McCormick said.

Ice blocks and cooling records in Ohio

In Ohio, members of the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo have been keeping a close eye on the weather and have plenty of tools to help the animals cool off when temperatures soar.

First there are cooling records and caves for snow leopards and submersible streams for Amur tigers, said Jeff Tolman, a park spokesman.

The zoo has also set up shade structures, rhino spray bars, and ice blocks for grizzly bears, and on particularly hot days, staff make sure African elephants have plenty of opportunities to soak in the mud, which helps cool them and protect their skin from the sun.

Extra Fans and Braids on One Pennsylvania Farm

And it is not only zoos that seek to provide comfort to their animals from the high temperatures.

In Saxonburg, Pennsylvania, Jessica Pottus owns more than 100 animals in the J and J Farms Animal Sanctuary that she and her husband own.

The pair have doubled the number of fans in their barn, have added extra mist fans, and pools, and refill the tubs multiple times each day.

“This year has been awful, there has been very little rain in June, so we are in a drought on top of the heat,” said Potos.

The couple also braids their horses’ sticks – a task that takes hours – to help them stay calm.

“The horses will sweat and become so sticky that we will spray them with the hose,” Cotts said.

And for the ducks on the property, many of whom are disabled, the couple created a pool to help them cool off and built a ramp to help them get in and out.

CNN Wire
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CNN’s Sarah Smart contributed to this report.

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