How to beat the heat: The Calgary Zoo animal care team is working to keep everyone cool

Temperatures in Calgary are expected to eclipse 30 degrees for much of next week, but the Calgary Zoo says this will keep the animals cool.

Colleen Baird, senior director of animal care at the zoo, said many animals are used to warmer temperatures.

“Most of our hoofed animals have lost their hair, so they’re pretty emaciated with their coats, very little hair on them,” she said.

“It’s by design. They’re going to start cultivating this, to prepare for winter.

Baird said the animal care team is large and works alongside veterinarians who regularly check on animals.

“If an animal exhibits unusual behavior, more excessive panting than we would like to see, we will take that on a case-by-case basis and make a change,” Baird said.

“Whether it’s (to) get them inside a cooler building, provide them with a sprinkler, or do something different.”

Lions enjoy an afternoon nap at the Calgary Zoo, August 10, 2022

Baird added that penguins cool off daily in a pool, but can also use the nearby sprinkler when out of the water.

For larger animals, it takes a while to cool off.

“We take a bucket, fill it with ice, put some fruit in it, and freeze it,” Baird said.

“(We then) took that out and put it in an exhibit. The bears will play with it, so they can rub themselves on cold ice and get rid of the food that somehow melts.

Baird says shelter and shade are essential for many animals, as they also try to beat the heat.

Penguins relax at the Calgary Zoo, August 10, 2022

Benjamin M. Yerger