ALBANY, GA (WALB) - It is hard enough for people to stay cool during the summer in Southwest Georgia, but zookeepers at Chehaw have the added challenge of helping all of their animals keep their cool during the summer heat.
WALB News 10's Andrew Gorton spent the morning with zookeepers at Chehaw learning how they do it.
With average highs in the 90s, South Georgia summers are brutal, but imagine having to deal with the heat covered in fur.
"When it gets over 95 degrees, and you move those bears around much, it can really take a toll on them," said Assistant Curator John Brown.
The trees at Chehaw provide natural shade for the animals, but zookeepers also make sure their animals always have access to plenty of water and even the occasional treat.
"If you or I wanted to cool down on a South Georgia summer day we might go out for ice cream, but it's different for the animals here at Chehaw. The zookeepers create some fun creations including frozen worms and meat," said Andrew Gorton.
The bears also enjoy frozen orange juice and fruit.
Some of the oranges even come from an orange tree in the zoo.
"We know a popsicle isn't going to keep an animal cool the rest of the day. It's just something to give them a good flavor, so they can say on this hot day I got a good treat," said Brown.
These white-nosed coati, who are in the raccoon family come running to get their treats, something they wouldn't get in their native lands of Mexico, Central and South America.
"Here they enjoy their treats of Jell-O, we have ice cubes and popsicles we give them on a regular basis. They also like playing in their pool," said Primary Zookeeper Brandi Rubeck.
If you are visiting the zoo on a hot day and want to the see the animals being active, the zookeepers have some advice.
"A lot of times they come out here and they want the animals to be running around in the heat. What they don't realize is that, if you want to see them move around you need to come early or late in the evening. In the middle of the day an animal is not going to be running around," said Brown.
Although the heat is the main concern for zookeepers during the summer, there are other precautions they take for their animals as well.
"The bears get a vaccination for West Nile, the mosquitoes are bad out here. They get a heart worm prevention every month. We do stuff like that here, just like you would do for your dog," said Brown.
No matter the weather, the animals at Chehaw are in good hands.
"The animals are really well taken care of just like us, we don't like the heat, but it is a necessary evil we have to put up with living in Southwest Georgia," said Brown.
The zookeepers at Chehaw also have safety plans for their animals for all types of weather including floods and extreme cold.
If the weather gets dangerous, the animals can go to into their shelters or be transported to a different location.
If you are interested in feeding the animals at Chehaw for yourself, they offer select opportunities every weekend. You can call (229) 430-5275 to get this weekend's schedule.
Copyright 2017 WALB. All rights reserved.