Beating the heat at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens | News

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Beating the heat at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- For many of us who have lived here for years, we are used to the sweltering days, but for non-natives the hot weather can be tough. On top of that, just imagine being stuck wearing a fur jacket when the heat index hits 100.

At the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, staff work hard through the summer heat to make sure the animals are staying cool.

The warthogs take a good roll in the mud to cool down on a hot day. Not only does the cool mud help keep them from overheating, it also helps protect them from any sunburn.

"I think like us they just want to chill out and stay cool," says senior mammal keeper Melanie Young with a smile.

For Nikolai the leopard, he enjoys the chilly breeze from a fan that mists him with water and sometimes gets frozen treats. The Jacksonville Zoo says most of the animals are heat tolerant, but just to be safe they do things like tossing treats into water. That helps get big animals like TJ the black bear to take a dip in the water.

But when the temperatures and humidity start to become extreme, it can be too hot for some animals to stay outside.

"If the humidity is really bad some of our gorillas have heart conditions where they are brought inside for the rest of the day, so they can be in the air conditioning," says Young.

Due to Florida's heat the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens can't keep certain animals like arctic foxes, polar bears or even red pandas. They can keep otters though, which are a crowd favorite. For the otters, a good helping of ice is all they need to cool down.

Though watching the otters play with the ice looks like a lot of fun, the zoo keepers are always watching for any signs of stress from the heat.

Don't forget the two legged animals that roam the zoo too. All the keepers have to work through the blistering temperatures as well.

"So I sit in front of fans, drink lots of water, sit in the shade...the big thing is not over doing it, because I could end up suffering front heat stroke just like the animals can," tells mammal keeper Jessica Curtis.

So with a little mud, mist, frozen meals and ice, the animals at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens are finding relief in the heat!


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