Beating the heat with the primates
It’s summertime, y’all! Or as I like to call it, only slightly hotter than the rest of the year, because hey – we live in Georgia. As a born and bred Georgia girl, I like to think that I have a natural tolerance to the heat and humidity, but even the toughest southerner has to take a break from it sometimes. The same applies to our animals here at Zoo Atlanta. So how exactly do keepers and animals here in the Primate Department beat the heat? Well I’m glad you asked. As for keepers, we stick to drinking lots of water, as much time in the A/C as we can manage, and a steady supply of popsicles.
For the animals, we provide a myriad of different ways to stay cool and hydrated in the summer heat. All primate areas have constant access to water, whether it be lixit nozzles or water bowls in smaller habitats; even if you can’t see it, rest assured that the animals are never without a steady supply of water. To mix things up on toasty days, we even provide the primate version of popsicles – ice treats! Essentially just frozen juice (sometimes with yummy extras like sunflower seeds or frozen berries), ice treats provide a delicious, enriching, and refreshing break from the afternoon heat.
Even the habitats are equipped with fun water features and heat-beating measures. Mister fans placed around our primate habitats provide a cool breeze on hot days, and a pool on Gorilla Habitat 4 allows the apes a nice dip if they so please. Although they’re not naturally swimmers, you can spot the boys splashing around on occasion. One of my favorite features is a motion-activated sprayer from the Learning Tree on Orangutan Habitat 2. This sprayer shoots a stream of water across the habitat, towards the guest area, and is activated when an animal touches the sensor, so the animals can choose when to spray it (fun and environmentally friendly)! On days when we do feel it’s just too hot for animals to be outside, we give animals access to their indoor areas so that they can choose to catch a break in the air conditioning. Thankfully, we don’t have too many of those days.
So there you go, dear reader, keep an eye out next time you’re at the Zoo this summer, and see if you can spot some of these *cool* ways that we as keepers and the primates here at Zoo Atlanta beat the heat!
Part-time Keeper I, Primates