How zoo staff protect animals from the heat

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — People aren’t the only ones who need to stay safe from the heat.

The summer is Louis’ time to shine.

The bearded dragon is one of the zoo’s ambassador animals that goes out into the community.

“In the summer our reptiles do a lot of programs because they’re most comfortable in the heat,” Great Plains Zoo education and engagement manager Spencer said.

But all the animals, even Louis, have heat thresholds which means sometimes outreach programs may have to be moved indoors or rescheduled.

Director of animal care and conservation Matt Eschenbrenner says zoo staff take several steps to protect animals from the extreme heat.

For example, a water mister is turned on in this tiger exhibit.

“We also try to offer a lot of free choice for the animals on whether or not they feel comfortable going out in some of these weather conditions. For example the snow leopards, a lot of times once we’re past 93-94 degrees, we don’t even given them that option. We just make sure they’re inside in a nice cool, air-conditioned space and that’s really good for their welfare and care,” Great Plains Zoo director of animal care and conservation Matt Eschenbrenner said.

The hot temperatures mean cooler treats for the animals too, including a frozen beef bone and frozen goat’s milk.

“A big part of the goal is to make sure we’re always considering animal welfare when we make any decision at the zoo. So we’re always going to make a decision that’s based on the animals’ wellbeing first,” Spencer said.

Eschenbrenner says even in the high heat, there’s still plenty to see at the Great Plains Zoo.

Coming up on August 5th the zoo will be holding a fundraiser called Expedition ZooFalls.

It will feature a silent auction, gourmet food and more.

Click here for event details.

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