JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - With temperatures feeling like they were in triple digits Wednesday, zookeepers really heard the call of the wild at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.
I spent the day as a zookeeper to see how they keep their animals cool in the summer heat.
The tigers enjoy a waterfall and pool feature in the Land of the Tiger exhibit and were chilling by the water Wednesday morning.
"Our modern exhibits, they always have some cooling (features), like these water features," one zookeeper said. "The holding (area) has air conditioning, so if it gets too hot and they need access to an area that's cooler, then they have the air conditioning."
"The elephants pretty much take care of themselves," their keeper said. "We just have to provide them an opportunity to get in the water. They will actually make wallows out of the mud and coat themselves with mud and it actually keeps their body temperatures down. We just have to monitor the animals to make sure they're fine. Most of the time, they're enjoying it."
The hornbills exhibit has mist ropes attached to it to spray a light mist that keeps the birds cool.
"Very, very fine mist It's just more for ambient temperature," one keeper said. "Just that little bit of mist helps keep them cooler."
Keepers were also watching out for a bontebok that was released into the Africa exhibit for the first time Wednesday. He was running and bounding around and staff kept a close eye on him to make sure he didn't overheat. He seemed like he was having a great time and making lots of new friends.
"One of our favorites, at least in the summer time, is giving them ice treats," one keeper said. "For example, tigers, we like to give what we call bloodcicles, which are just popsicles made of blood -- not our blood."
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