A zookeeper has a busy job on an average day; during a heat wave their job becomes more critical.
On Monday, it was all hands on deck at the Calgary Zoo, as keepers observed animals for any visible signs of heat stress during this 30 degree weather.
“We’ve got the air conditioning on for staff but with the animals it’s ultimately important for the keepers whenever we have extreme temperatures, whether it be hot or extremely cold, just to ensure we have all of our protocols in place to make sure the animals are comfortable,” explained spokesperson Trish Exton Parder.
“In weather like this, when it gets into the thirties, it’s all about the shade, having places where the animals have the freedom to go at leisure to get out of the heat, to make sure they’re hydrated so lots and lots of water.”
It often means special treats, whether it was popsicle-like snacks or sprinklers for the penguins to frolic under.
“It’s about keepers keeping an eye on any signs of heat stress, very similar to how we would our own pets, just ensuring that our dogs and cats etc. are managing the weather extremes in a good way. Just looking for signs that maybe they don’t have enough water and maybe they need some cool space.”
Among the animals they have to keep a closer eye on compared to others, the Siberian tigers, who best thrive in cooler temperatures.
“If people find that a couple of animals may not be out, it’s because they are seeking a little cooler part of their exhibit or they’re choosing to go inside and we absolutely have to let them do that whenever that’s the case.”
Exton-Parder says keepers know to look for different signs when we have temperatures like we experienced Monday.
And for those humans looking to beat the heat, she says many used the Penguin exhibit where it was a nice and cool 7 degrees.