As the city goes through a mini heat wave, visitors may find themselves envying the harbor seals at Kovler Sea Lion Pool. These marine mammals spend their days in the water, buffered from the swelter above as they glide gracefully beneath the surface.
It sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? And the seals (below) aren’t the only animals to cool off with a splash. Sichuan takins, trumpeter swans, North American river otters and polar bear Anana are among the species dipping into pools in their exhibits. Sometimes a little mud enters the mix as well, as seen with the cool coatings on our endangered black rhinoceroses and red river hogs. Visitors even join the fun, with kids drenching themselves in the water play area in front of the Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo.
Obviously mud wallows and pools are just one way to help animals stay cool in hot weather. Many species choose to beat the heat the easy way: by remaining inside in sheltered exhibits. This is always an option for the wildlife in our care. No animal at the zoo is ever forced to stay outside.
Our animal care experts are also extra watchful in hot weather, carefully monitoring each animal for changes in behavior or signs of stress. Keepers can even have a bit of fun with the rising temperatures, incorporating chilled treats and blocks of ice into daily enrichment schedules.
Of course, summer brings more than just heat. Last Friday the Women’s Board of Lincoln Park Zoo celebrated the season—and Chicago’s free zoo—by hosting Zoo Ball: Wild at Heart presented by Guggenheim. Chaired by Jennifer Caruso, Charlotte Monhart and Vasiliki Weiden, this grand summer event welcomed 900 guests and raised more than $1 million for the zoo. As always, I was amazed at this spectacular fundraiser, now in its 36th year. Thanks to the Women’s Board for everything they do for the zoo.