Ice blocks, frozen fish and sprinklers: keeping Banham Zoo animals cool
- Credit: Archant
Norfolk may be experiencing the temperatures like those more usual in Africa but even animals adapted for the sweltering savannahs need to cool off sometimes.
Keepers at Banham Zoo have been using a range of methods to ensure their 2,000 animals from around the world are not getting all hot and bothered.
With temperatures nudging 37°C in Norfolk ice blocks, frozen fish and sprinklers are just some of the things they using to keep things chilled.
But unlike humans who have a tendency to underestimate the heat, animals have an inbuilt common sense when it comes to soaring temperatures.
Michael Woolham, animal manager at Banham Zoo, said: "When we get temperatures like this the animals will naturally seek out shade and conserve their energy. They probably have more sense than many people: you don't see many sunburnt animals!"
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Mr Woolham said the most commonly asked question in hot weather is how do the penguins cope? "There are only three penguin species that come from the Antarctic, all the others come from tropical climates," he explains.
"Our penguins come from Africa, so this is just normal for them. That goes for a lot of our animals. Meercats are used to these temperatures, Grevy's zebra come from Kenya, and giraffes are adapted for it.
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"The emu come from Australia but we give them a sprinkler and they really love that. When you put it on they go over and sit in it and then roll on their sides.
"Some of the animals like the snow leopards and the tigers have got ponds. Tigers particularly like to go in their pond when it gets very hot.
"Also the snow leopards and the pandas have got what we call cool shelves, two pieces of wood with a gap that we can slide frozen trays of ice into."
Meanwhile Banham's sea lions are given fish frozen into ice blocks. "You do have to be careful giving frozen food to animals, it is not good to feed them large quantities, but for an animal like a sea lion to get three or four sprats frozen isn't harmful," said Mr Woolham.
The animals he most worries about are his team of keepers.
He said: "They are working outside all day and it does take it toll. The animals can sit in the shade and chill out. They don't have clean an enclosure or do any mowing or strimming!"