This is a paid piece from the Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History.
Simplified: With triple-digit temperatures this week, the staff at the zoo is working hard to make sure animals are comfortable. And with Saturday's annual Zippity Zoo Day event, there will be lots of fun ways for guests to cool off and enjoy the animals, too.
Why it matters
- The Great Plains Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) – a recognition given to only about 10 percent of zoos. With that accreditation comes specific AZA standards on what temperatures are appropriate for each animal.
- Most animals already have both indoor and outdoor access in any weather, and the goal is to give animals as much choice and control over their environment as possible.
- Zookeepers also find creative ways to keep animals cool with fan misters and ice treats filled with foods they like – sweet potato popsicles, anyone?
"If it's too hot or too cold, we're going to make the proper decisions to care for these animals correctly," said Denise DePaolo, director of PR and engagement for the zoo.
How do different animals handle the heat?
Certain animals do just fine – or have their own coping methods to beat the heat. Others need to spend some time in air conditioning to make sure they're staying safe.
- Rhinos, for example, roll in the mud to help protect their skin, similar to how humans use sunscreen.
- Red pandas cool off with ice treats and fresh bamboo.
- Flamingos get ice in the bins with their food.
- Squirrel monkeys get ice treats with grapes, bananas and other fruits mixed in.
- Colobus monkeys get ice treats filled with veggies including sweet potatoes and bell peppers.
- Big cats, like tigers and snow leopards, get to spend a few days inside in air conditioning because they're not built to handle the heat, DePaolo said.
- All animals have water access at all times, as well as whatever options they need for shade, indoor access or other creative ways to cool off.
Tell me more about Zippity Zoo Day
The annual event – which takes place 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday – aims to be the most magical, fun day ever at the zoo, DePaolo said.
"Every time you go around the corner, it's something else fun," she added.
Here's a look at some of the fun:
- Bubble machines,
- Watermelon (both for the animals and the guests),
- Juggling and close-up magic,
- Bounce houses,
- Lawn games,
- A special banana split Dippin' Dots flavor at the Roar Cafe will be available for purchase,
- And – in another way to beat the heat – there will also be Icee carts.
Guests are also encouraged to bring refillable water bottles to help stay hydrated. There are filling stations in the museum and in the Roar Cafe.
If you go:
- The event starts at 9 a.m., and the last ticket for Zippity Zoo Day will be sold at 3 p.m.
- Zoo members pay $5 for the day, and non-members pay $19.50 for adults, $16 for children and $18.50 for seniors.