Zookeepers busy keeping animals cool at Chaffee Zoo

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As the sun beats down on the Central Valley, protecting the animals from heat stress is a top priority at the zoo. (KFSN)

These triple digit heat waves have zookeepers at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo working extra hard to make sure the animals and those who are tending to them are keeping cool.

As the sun beats down on the Central Valley, protecting the animals from heat stress is a top priority at the zoo.

"It's a very sliding scale of who gets what," Chief Veterinary Officer of the zoo Shannon Nodolf explained. "Predominately most of our exhibits will have large bodies of water that they can get into, our big African elephant, Moosey - you see him in the water most of these hot days. He goes around from pool to pool to pool trying them out."

Many visitors showed up prepared for the intense heat and those who forgot to bring shady relief still had options.

Right after the zoo opened up Monday, Karyn Robertson brought her grandsons out.

"With all of the landscape and the trees, it's very cool there's a slight breeze," she said. "So, our mission was to come early when the animals are active before the day gets too hot."

"I like the lions the most and how I keep cool is I drink water and put sunscreen on," visitor Vincent Robinson said.

Zookeepers say it's just as important for zoo workers and visitors to stay cool, as it is the animals. Picking up after the bears and elephants in the heat is one hot job.

"For our staff, we also have what we call rest stations throughout the zoo," Nodolf said. "So, it's areas where they have access to cold filtered water, air conditioning and anytime staff are feeling overheated they are supposed to go there and take their cool down period."

Misters and fans are another widely used cooling method at the zoo. It's an easy and instant option that can even be set to a timer. The flamingos like to rotate between the shade and sprinkling mist.

Since most animals don't overtly sweat, zookeepers are looking for other signs of overheating, like panting, pacing, open mouth breathing or animals who are flapping their ears.

Some solutions are bringing the animals indoors, offering ice treats or even showers.

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