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Zookeepers working hard to keep animals cool during the dog days of summer

Riverbanks Zoo provides fans, shading structures and even cool treats for the furry friends

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Zookeepers at Riverbanks Zoo are working hard to keep their animals cooled off as summer temperatures continue to remain in the 90s. 

John Davis is the Director of Animal Care at Riverbanks Zoo and  says there are many steps to getting the animals ready for the summer and some processes that start as early as March. 

"We take many steps well in advance to prepare the animals for the summer heat, take the grizzly for example you know when we built this and designed this exhibit we put a lot of features in place to make sure that it met the needs in all temperatures and seasons, summertime when it's well up close to 100-degrees,  you can see the 20-year-old grizzly bear hanging out, living a good life and taking it easy in the shade, he's got a really nice pool. " 

Davis adds they install fans and large shade structures for the animals to lay near.

The zoo hands out ice treats in the peak of the heat to cool them off, "Towards the afternoon after lunch, a lot of the times they'll provide some icy treats, we have something scheduled routinely so our guests can see the animals interacting with their icy treats and two because as I mentioned their activity levels sometimes decrease at the height of the temperatures, we provide them the animals with something to stimulate their activity a little bit so the guests can see them moving around or encourage them to come out of their shaded locations for just a brief moment to enjoy an icy treat." 

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The zoo says some of their other animals. like Penguins, don't do well in the summer, so they keep them inside in cool pools, "We build our facility to accommodate them, it's almost 45 degrees in there, so we actually have a chiller in there." 

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Davis adds the zoo continuously checks to see what other features they can enhance or change to keep the animals safe throughout the year. 

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