Zookeepers look to keep animals cool in oppressive heat – DNyuz

Zookeepers look to keep animals cool in oppressive heat

Zookeepers are particularly sensitive to these challenges, often having to care for a wide variety of animals with varying needs.

Phoenix zookeepers set careful temperature parameters and tailor heat plans for all animals under their care, Foster said. The horned rhinos, elephants and tortoises love water showers, while many of the big cats prefer a gentle misting. Zookeepers carefully monitor animals for signs of heat stress, such as panting.

Given the extreme heat, the Phoenix Zoo has also shifted its hours from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., opting to welcome visitors during the coolest parts of the day and closing certain enclosures when necessary. The zoo has, however, stopped short of completely closing.

At the Houston Zoo, where temperatures continue to skirt 100deg F, staff has maintained its opening hours. The zoo has many animals that come from hotter climates. However, zookeepers keep an eye on the less heat-tolerant ones. They provide apes, gorillas, and monkeys with shower pools and climate controlled rooms.

“One gorilla in particular enjoys the shower pools. It kind of looks like a person sitting in a hot tub,” said Kevin Hodge, the zoo’s vice president. “It’s really cute.”

Many zoos are coping with how to adapt to a much hotter future, as global warming continues to affect the frequency and duration of heat waves. One analysis found that climate change has made extreme heat five times more likely in the Southwest.

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