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Warming up for spring

Although it has not felt it so far, we have hit springtime here in Atlanta. With spring supposedly comes warmer weather, which we can hope will eventually show up. While many of the animals will enjoy the shift in temperatures over the next few weeks, we as animal care professionals are also making sure we are prepared for days that get a little warmer once summer gets here.

Gorillas in the wild can be found in the tropics and, as such, are native to warm climates. Even so, there are a number of ways we ensure that the gorilla troops stay comfortable once those summer temperatures arrive.

While all of the gorillas have access to water sources at all times, we want to make sure they stay well hydrated. On hot days, we offer them diluted juice before they shift out into their habitats and when they shift inside for the night. Just like humans, it can be easy, especially for young gorillas, to become dehydrated. This is an important measure we take to make sure we prevent this from happening.

While they are in their habitats, we have come up with a variety of cooling mechanisms to make sure the animals stay comfortable throughout the day. All of our habitats have plenty of shade available for the gorillas to take refuge from the sun when needed. Fans and misting units are set up as well to ventilate and offer cooling stations. Throughout the day we will also offer cool treats such as flavored ice and other frozen food items. This would probably be the gorillas’ favorite way of cooling off. If you’re lucky enough you might even get to see them throwing their ice treats up in the air to break them up into smaller pieces that are easier to eat. On the very warmest summer days, we will also give the gorillas access to their indoor areas in case they want to go inside and cool off.

Be on the lookout for some of these forms of warm-weather enrichment and care once the spring warm-up finally arrives.
Josh Meyerchick
Senior Keeper, Primates

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