Zoo staff helping to keep the animals cool during heat wave

The animals are given extra opportunities to hang out in the shade, head indoors, and some are even given frozen treats.

By: Tim Studebaker

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – During hot and humid weather, a lot of us are focused on keeping ourselves cool.  But, what about the animals at the zoo?  We spent the day at Roger Williams Park Zoo to find out how the staff there are working to keep the animals cool and comfortable.

Hot and humid weather is certainly uncomfortable, and in some cases even dangerous.  It’s not just dangerous for people, but also for animals.  Tim French is the Deputy Director for Animal Programs at Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence.  He says a lot of the animals know how to fend for themselves in the heat.

French says, “They’re typically smarter than we are, and they’ll find a cool, shady spot, and they’ll sit still and not do anything while we go out and work and sweat and make ourselves a little crazy.”

French says during hot weather, the animals are given opportunities to seek out shade, head indoors where they’ll find fans or even air conditioning, or douse themselves in water or mud.  Some of the animals even get a frozen treat once in a while.

French says, “Just like you want to have a slushie or your Del’s or ice cream, when it’s really hot we create ice treats for a lot of our animals.”

Some of the water habitats will warm up when it’s hot outside, too.  When that happens, the staff will replace it with fresh, cooler water.  And while some animals are from hot and humid parts of the world, that doesn’t mean they’ll be more active than other animals during a heat wave.

French says, “Even the African animals…  If you were on the African savanna, and it’s this hot, they’re all going to be laying in the shade for the most part.”

And if you do go in the next few days, you might just find yourself cooling off in the same mist as a macaw.

The staff at the zoo say if you’re going to visit during the heat, try to be patient.  Some of the animals might be harder to see, or less active, while they try to keep themselves cool.

© WLNE-TV / ABC6 2021

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