LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – This week’s summer heat has been very hard not only on Arkansans but animals too, and Little Rock Zoo officials are taking extra steps to keep them safe.
Susan Alturi, director of the zoo said they are doing multiple things to protect the animals from excessive heat, like allowing animals access to their indoor areas where extra fans have been placed, turning on the water mister and sprinklers, feeding them ice treats and providing extra shade.
Alturi said they keep a close eye on all of their animals when the temperatures rise.
“When there’s an excessive heat warning the great apes, we especially look for signs of heat stress they’re a lot like us and they can overheat,” Alturi said.
She adds that the signs to look for heat stress in animals are similar to humans.
“Look at the way they’re behaving. You can look at their panting, acting differently, or having slower movements,” Alturi said.
One of the things they’re doing to keep animals cool from the heat includes the temperature of their food.
“We will do frozen fruit that we freeze in water and it’s this big giant ice cube and we will throw it out for elephants and great apes,” Alturi said.
Animals are also doing what they can to beat the heat like elephants throwing dirt on their backs, which creates their own sunscreen and a tiger dip in the pool in their exhibit.
“Tigers are actually aquatic, that’s something not a lot of people realize tigers really like to swim,” Alturi said.
She goes on to say that in all of their exhibits they have pools for the animals, and to be on the safe side extra precautions were taken.
“We have added a lot of shade into a lot of the habitats,” Alturi adds. “Shade is important, it can make a difference anywhere from 10-20 degrees outside for animals.”
They also make sure all animals have access to plenty of water even if guests can’t easily spot it.
“It’s a lixit spout that sticks out from the side of the wall you don’t see it as a guest when you’re looking at the exhibit, but it’s there the animals know where it is and they can go right up to it and lick it when they need the water out,” Alturi said.