HATTIESBURG, Miss – Heat related illnesses and deaths are happening more frequently as temperatures rise. But it’s common for families to visit the zoo during the summer. Have you ever wondered why you see animals lounging in the shade, instead of entertaining the crowd?
Animal Care Manger Stephen Taylor said they’re just like humans. They try to conserve energy on a hot day, “That’s what they do to stay nice and chill. Find a nice shady spot, lie down and ride through the day.”
The high Tuesday was 95 degrees, so we met with the Taylor at the Hattiesburg Zoo to see how the animals are coping with the heat, “We’ll make frozen blood-sicles is what we call them. It’s just frozen beef blood or chicken blood.”
Taylor said most of the animals are from Africa or South America so their bodies are accustomed to heat. However, pools are featured in most of the exhibits, “They’ll just sit in there and bask in the afternoon heat and keep cool.”
The eagles, emus and tortoises are sprayed with the water hose several times a day, “We just give them water to cool them off and they’ll drink it as you spray them down.”
Taylor said their animals haven’t experienced a heat related illness because of their tactics to keep them cool along with the structure of the exhibits. But they’re still watching for certain symptoms, “Acting out of sorts. Just lying around not acting themselves, heavy breathing.”
For the animals that aren’t comfortable in hot temperatures like reptiles and certain birds, they’re kept inside.
For more information on the Hattiesburg Zoo click here