Like the rest of the city, Lincoln Park Zoo has been feeling the heat. In the face of record temperatures, caregivers are following our plan to keep animals safe and comfortable.
Nearly every animal at the zoo has access to off-exhibit space where they can retreat for shade and cooler temperatures. (The few exceptions, like the chickens at the Farm-in-the-Zoo, are simply kept inside when temperatures go above the species’ normal range.) If you see animals outside in the heat, they’re there because they choose to be, and they can always head in.
Polar bear Anana cools down with a refreshing dive at Polar Bear Plaza.
Beyond cooling spaces, animal care staff offer extra enrichment to help species beat the heat. Exhibits with pools are filled with cold water, offering a nice soaking space for Amur tigers, European white stork and Andean bears. Similarly, the black rhinos and red river hog get plenty of cooling mud in which to wallow.
Last week Nadeau Ice contributed to the cool down by donating several large blocks of ice. Our gray seal swam after frozen “fish-cicle” treats in the Kovler Sea Lion Pool while big cats at the Kovler Lion House lapped up ice flavored with extra protein. Snowy owls felt a touch of their native Arctic by sitting in tubs of ice at Regenstein Birds of Prey Exhibit. Even the meerkats at Regenstein African Journey cooled down by batting around bottles filled with frozen water—relaxing on the impromptu ice pads after their play was over.
Animal care staff remain vigilant in monitoring the animals throughout the day. “It’s not different from what we do year round,” says General Curator Dave Bernier, “but with high temperatures, we do focus monitoring on heat-related behaviors.”
The well-being of our animals is always our top concern, whether the zoo is sweltering in July or covered in ice in January. Stay cool yourself, and be sure to visit this weekend, when temperatures finally drop.