Zoo keepers keep animals at Chehaw cool - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Zoo keepers keep animals at Chehaw cool

August 16, 2007

Lee County -- Many animals at the Parks at Chehaw are just spending this summer horsing around. But with this season's extreme heat, it's easy for them to overdo it.

"Heat stress or heat stroke. It can go anywhere from a mild case of dehydration to if it's not caught in time or not taken care off it could cause death," said park curator, Jan Thompson.

The animal keepers are doing several things to make sure this doesn't happen. "You have to provide them with shade, you got to give them plenty of fresh water and you don't stress them," said Thompson.

Zoo keepers hose several of the animals down periodically through the day to help keep them cool.

"There are some animals that need a little bit extra like the pigs. The pigs need some mud wallows. The rhinos need their mud wallow. Overall you want to keep track of everyone and make sure everyone is okay," said animal keeper, Carey Stanton.

The keepers and staff are always watching for signs of heat exhaustion, and they're not just looking at the animals.

"We bring plenty of water or gatorade and  try to get inside when it's really hot. But of course that's not always possible," said Stanton. "We just try to keep cool, but if we start to feel the effects; go ahead and take a break."

But keeping cool does come with its perks. "We sometimes do special things that they don't necessarily need. But it's a nice thing that helps cool them down more with frozen treats," said Thompson. 

"Fruit-cicals and fish-cicals, its just frozen foods that take a little bit longer, and the cheetahs get blood-cicles," said Thompson.

So at the end of a sweltering day, the rules of staying cool apply to all. Most of the animals at Chehaw's Wild Animal Park come from parts of the world with weather similar to South Georgia.

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