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Keeping Zoo Animals Cool

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How Zoo Animals Keep Their Cool
Kerrie Cassani Updated: Jul 2, 2012, 10:04 AM EDT weather.com

The searing heat is no fun for anyone, but what if you were covered with a thick coat of hair and you lived mostly outside? For many zoo animals these record 100 degree temperatures are simply unbearable. 

Larger animals are typically the warmest says zookeeper Jennifer London from the Irvine Park Zoo in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.

"The cats and bears are the bigger animals, so they're going to be the warmer ones," London said. "With the tigers, we'll give them ice cubes, we'll freeze buckets of ice, and throw that in the pool."

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At the North Carolina Zoo, caretakers say each animal has some source of water or a way to cool off. 

"Sometimes it's a pond or lake and sometimes it's chilled pools or even mounds of crushed ice,"  said Tom Gillespie, North Carolina Zoo.  "Many exhibits have fans and air conditioning in their off exhibit holding areas. In this type of hot weather, we leave these holding area doors open so they can escape the heat."

Cooling off can also be fun for animals and spectators.  Zoo keepers create icy treat for animals to claw at, play with and enjoy. 

"We take the animals favorite treats like fruit, fish or juice and freeze it in a bucket creating a Popsicle," Gillespie adds.

Aussie, a polar bear at the Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield, Ill., cools off with a large block of ice in his pool. (AP Photo/Chicago Zoological Society, Jim Schulz)

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