See how the Phoenix Zoo keeps its animals cool during Arizona's summer months

Posted at 3:48 PM, Jun 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-14 23:47:09-04

Animals are a lot like people. They get hungry and tired, and can even show signs of dehydration when the temperatures rise.

That's why the animal care specialists at the Phoenix Zoo take extra precautions and keep an even closer eye on their animals and habitats during Arizona's hottest months

In June, the zoo's summer hours went into effect. It now opens at 7 a.m. (6 a.m. for members) and closes at 2 p.m., which will be in place until September 1.

They invited ABC15, and other members of the media, to the zoo on Thursday to see in person how trainers keep the animals cool and safe.

With over 3,000 animals, each one requires different care and specialized features to their exhibits.

“It really just depends on what that animal likes to do, what their natural habitat is. So a lot of our enclosures have natural shade, misting systems and pools,” said Linda Hardwick, spokeswoman for the Phoenix Zoo.

Orangutans Michael, Bess and 3-year-old Jiwa, the youngest of the bunch, have an air-conditioned indoor enclosure that is typically kept at 80 degrees during the summer. 

Inside there are ropes and hammocks to hang on. 

They also get bucket-sized ice treats made of water, Gatorade and Crystal Light. Trainers said this gives the orangutans extra electrolytes.

The same goes for Jai and Suriya, Sumatran tigers. On this day, Jai received three frozen ice pops along with some "bloodsicles" made of fish and blood. (Yummy....!) The exhibit also has an outdoor pond, shaded areas, and a behind-the-scenes enclosure.

Sheena, one of the zoo's three Asian elephants, was given a shower using a hose. She also has a pond and mud to keep herself cool, her trainer said. The elephants can also have a shaded enclosure they can spend time in rather than be outside. 

Because of the hot temperatures, it's best to visit the zoo during its early hours, said Hardwick. As it gets hotter during the day, the animals tend to hunker down in the shade or go to their hidden enclosures.

Phoenix Zoo
455 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix, AZ 85008
Summer hours: 7 a.m. - 2 p.m.