National Zookeeper Week focuses on the need to protect and preserve our wildlife and vanishing habitats via conservation messages created by their institutions. The animal keepers role as educators and wildlife ambassadors has become essential. During the third week of July each year, celebrate National Zoo Keeper Week; both keepers and animals deserve professional recognition.
This year, we’re focusing on their remarkable work to keep our animals safe and cool in the hot Arizona summer. That is to say, the Phoenix Zoo takes the summer heat very seriously – especially when it comes to the care and comfort of the animals who call the Zoo home.
Our amazing zookeepers monitor the animals in their care several times throughout the day, and pay special attention to any changes in behavior. They look for any signs of heat exhaustion, lethargy, abnormal activity and take appropriate measures if those symptoms are noticed.
Each one of our habitats uses trees, bushes, logs and other shade structures to give animals the option for relief. However, beyond the natural acclimation by most of our animals, we have implemented several other methods to give our animals respite from the sun.
Pools are located in the habitats of our lions, tigers, elephants, Andean bear and rhinoceros. Many animals occasionally receive tasty ice treats such as bloodsicles, fishsicles or frozen food.
Misters are used at Monkey Village and at our elephant habitat. Some animals, like those on the Savanna, receive a sprinkler or garden hose shower to keep cool. Mud wallows have been built for multiple species such as tortoises and warty pigs. Cooling rocks/slabs where cold water is piped underneath help keep hyenas and tigers comfortable. The orangutans even have air-conditioned day rooms they can choose to spend time in.
Summer hours began on June 1 (7 a.m. – 2 p.m.) and mornings are generally the best time to visit the Zoo to avoid the heat. We encourage guests to come prepared with plenty of water, a hat, protective clothing and sunscreen. Make sure to take frequent breaks!
Indeed, the Zoo can still be a “cool” experience for the entire family even in the hot Arizona summer.