The triple digit heat index is a challenge for man and beast, and animals at the Niabi Zoo are trying to beat the heat with the help of zoo staff.
“There is absolutely the potential for it to be dangerous, so we take as many precautions as possible to keep the animals cool to make sure they don’t overheat,” said Marc Heinzman, Niabi Zoo Director.
That means long, tall showers for the giraffes and lots of lettuce to keep them hydrated in the heat.
“Lettuce is 80 percent made of water, it’s practically made of water,” said one staff member at one of several feeding times.
Animals are being given bundt “cakes” made of solid ice, there are fans blowing for some of the monkeys, and a pool for the pig in the petting zoo.
“Pigs can’t sweat so we have to keep a close eye on him to keep him cool,” said Heinzman.
There’s a sign at the zoo’s entrance telling visitors they might not see all the animals because of the extreme heat.
“When it’s this warm, we don’t force them to be in the heat if they don’t want to be,” Heinzman said. “We have some of our animals that have a little thicker coat that we keep an eye on. We always keep and eye out to make sure our animals, visitors, and staff, don’t show signs of heat stress.”
On some days, there are popsicle treats for the animals. They’re made from frozen carrot juice for the giraffes, and meat juice for the lions.
Right now, it’s too hot for roaring.