Beating the heat at the Austin Zoo; how animals stay cool

Weather & Traffic In-Depth

(AUSTIN) KXAN — Summers in Central Texas typically feature long days of sunshine, high humidity and near-triple digit temperatures. This heat stress can do a number on the human body… but what do you do if you’re covered in fur, live mostly outside and just aren’t used to this kind of climate?

Alpacas playing in the hose on a hot summer day. COURTESY: KXAN

In an effort to beat the heat, zookeepers at Austin Zoo say there are several resources available to the animals to keep cool. Many animals have pools, fans and misters in their enclosures, in addition to shaded or temperature-controlled structures.

Some animals are even given frozen treats, like ice cubes made of baby food, juice or fruit pieces.

The big cats are treated with a more unique treat… frozen popsicles made of blood and meat juice. (A favorite, zoo officials say!)

Frozen juices and fruit given to primates as a way to stay cool. COURTESY: KXAN

Most of the birds housed at the Austin Zoo are originally from tropical areas and are said to be well adapted to the Central Texas heat. However, even on the hottest days, some of the feathered species need a little help keeping their body temperature down. On these days, zookeepers use hoses to “shower” the birds… helping to keep them, as well as their enclosures, cool.

Zoo officials say most of the animals tend to be more active in the early morning and late night when the temperatures are cooler, just as they would be in the wild.

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