Keeper's Diary - June 2009
Summer weather has come to the zoo this month, and it has become important for us to make sure that all the animals are able to cool down on hot days.
In last month's diary I explained that we had sheared all the alpacas and sheep in Animal Adventure, in preparation for the warmer months. Now that it has got a lot hotter it is important to also make sure that all the other animals on the section are able to deal with the heat.
Providing shade areas and cool dens for the animals to rest in is essential at this time of year as animals, just like people, can over-heat quickly.
Some animals such as our New Zealand Kunekune pigs are also susceptible to sunburn, as they don’t have very much hair. The pigs use mud as a natural sun cream, so we have to ensure that their wallow is kept wet and muddy so they can roll around in it whenever they want to cool off.
Enrichment methods have also been changed so that the animals are having enjoyable ways of cooling down. A few of our animals including the pigs, alpacas and also the red pandas like being showered with cold water from the hose when they get really hot.
A couple of the alpacas are particularly funny as they will stand in their water trough as they are hosed, to get as wet as possible!
Not all animals like to be showered however, as it seems to be an acquired taste. So for everyone else we have to think of some other cool treats to provide. For a lot of the species kept on Animal Adventure, we have been making ice lollies.
To make these we choose each animal’s favourite foods and freeze them overnight in cups of water. The lollies can consist of anything from fruits for the meerkats to mixed vegetables for the goats, or we can just freeze a flavour, such as mint or cinnamon into the water.
Ice lollies are proving to be popular with the meerkats and also with the coati group, which are South American raccoons.
As a result, all the animals on the section are enjoying the summer weather, and most of them can be seen lazing around in their enclosures making the most of the sun.
More next month.