We all know it’s been a hot summer. We talk about it every morning before we start our day. Animals, just like people can succumb to heat related issues. However, we never want it to get that far with the Museum’s animals. We prepare every year for the temperatures to rise and how to best take care of ourselves and our animals.
We make sure that there is plenty of shade and water for our bears, wolves, and lemurs in our Explore the Wild exhibits. Any catching up of the animals is done early in the morning before temperatures rise, usually before 7 a.m. Summer enrichment includes lots of frozen fruit, fruity or nutty ice cubes, mousicles (any guesses what a mousicle is?), or even ice blocks the size of buckets or large garbage cans.
You would think that being native to Madagascar makes it a breeze for our lemurs during the summer. However, it gets much hotter in North Carolina than it would in the treetops of the Malagasy jungle, so we have air conditioning for the indoor areas- keeping the temperatures around 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Keepers watch the Farmyard animals closely too. Some of the exhibit areas have big shady trees, for others we add umbrellas that the animals can stand under. Shade cloth is added to the top of our hawk and owl cages. Fans go up in every window. We check water levels at least three times each day, adding “water balloon ice cubes” to keep the water cool. Rabbits, the ones most susceptible to heat issues, get frozen water bottles to lean up against.