Phoenix Zoo has plenty of ways to keep animals cool during summer

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- Temperatures are soaring in the Valley, but people aren’t the only ones feeling the heat.

The Phoenix Zoo has a lot of ways to keep the animals cool in extreme temperatures. Many of them enjoyed some frozen treats and cooling opportunities on Thursday.

"We do have a lot of animals that can tolerate these temperatures, but we do like to take, definitely, some extra care on days like today when it is so hot," said Linda Hardwick, director of communications at the Phoenix Zoo.

A tiger received a special blood fish-sicle, otters were treated to fish "otter pops" and Andean bears got to play in a tub of ice.

The lions enjoyed the cooling rocks in their exhibit.

"They can sit on a rock with actually cool water pumping through," Hardwick said.

A desert tortoise enjoyed some cooling mud and being sprayed with a hose.

A female elephant also cooled off with a shower.

"Luckily for us, elephants are pretty smart and they do a good job on their own," keeper Steve Koyle said. "We've got mist fans for them, we've got shade, we've got a pool, they've got fresh water constantly, so they’re able to do things to keep their bodies cool."

Hardwick said the staff constantly monitors the health of the animals when it gets hot.

"Our keepers watch very closely the behavior of their animals," Hardwick said. "They know when they may be dehydrated, they might be a little more lethargic, so they definitely will do what they need to do to make sure that animal gets cool and out of the heat."

Hardwick said they give the animals plenty of opportunities to cool off. She said the staff ensures that the grasses are wet and the sprinklers are working. They also provide plenty of shade, misting systems and fans for the animals.

The zoo is open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. during the summer.