Think your local giant Galapagos tortoise has it easy because they don’t need to commute on the sweltering tube? You’d best think again.
It’s been a busy few days at ZSL London Zoo, as zookeepers have been working round the clock to ensure animals keep cool during the heatwave.
‘All the animals have had cooling treats every day as the temperatures have risen: Meerkats Liam and Roo have been frozen pea-bobbing to keep them cool, while Ande the llama had a shower first thing this morning while his paddock was being mucked out,’ zookeeper Veronica Heldt said.
‘Keepers have been giving out ice lollies made of frozen fruit tea or sugar free cordial, with nuts and seeds, to our primates, which is great enrichment for our animals as well as a cooling treat.’
Veronica, who joined ZSL London Zoo as a zookeeper in 2005, has had her fair share of summers with the animals.
‘The tigers have their own pool to swim in, the lions have a moat to dip their paws in and there are plenty of shaded areas in all our animals’ homes if they want to take a break from basking in the sun.’
Some of the critters aren’t too phased by the heat, with species from tropical locations making the most of the change in temperature.
‘Our Humboldt penguin colony are from South America and are used to warm weather, so they can be spotted splashing around the water in Penguin Beach just like any other day.
‘Likewise, our giant Galapagos tortoises, who are used to the high temperatures on the Galapagos islands, have been super active this morning – exploring the grassy outdoors of their home and cooling off in their pond.’
Veronica notes that some animals are naturally equipped with ‘amazing adaptations’ making them perfectly capable in the heat.
Those quirky little meerkats, for example, have been blessed with ‘natural sunglasses’, black patches around their eyes which deflect sunlight. Even hippos bring their own summer survival flair by secreting their own ‘sunscreen’ through their pores. Just imagine if the average Brit could do that.
Studies have shown that uncomfortably hot weather causes humans to become more irritated and aggressive, but when it comes to animals, how is their mood affected? Well it so happens that we have more in common with our swine pals than we care to admit.
‘Like humans, some of the animals at ZSL London Zoo do get lazier in the sun – the pigs have been wallowing lazily in the mud and the Asiatic lions have been spending their time stretched out, basking in the sun, or lying under the shady trees in Land of the Lions.’
For more animal fun, head to next week’s opening of Animal Adventure, London Zoo’s new children’s zoo.
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