Blood icicles given to Chehaw animals to keep cool

Chehaw Rhino covered in mud to keep cool. / Jessica Fairley

With temperatures hitting the hundreds across the nation, many pet owners are bringing their pets inside to keep them safe, but what about those animals that can't take shelter inside the air conditioner?

The animals at Chehaw Zoo have no choice but stay outside and brave the heat and zoo officials say they're working to keep these animals protected.

They start by thinking ahead. Before animals are brought to this region, zookeepers make sure they can stand the weather.

"The animals that we bring into our collection are animals that are adjusted to the heat," said Chehaw Zoo Director Kevin Hils.

But he says when temperatures rise, animals still need help. They start by giving them a cool place to hangout, like a mud bath.

"Wetting the ground down to make sure they have a nice cool place to lay down bringing their body temperatures down," said Zookeeper Danielle Sumner.

"It also helps to reduce the gnats and flies and mosquitoes," said Kevin Hils, "So it's kind of like skin-so-soft for rhinos. It does help provide sun block,"

Chehaw Park officials say it's normally ten degrees cooler under the trees. They say it's nature's way of providing air conditioning to the animals.

In addition to having a cool lounging area, the in-keep is supplied with a snack to match their eating habits. Herbivores get frozen fruit, while meat eaters have a treat of their own.

"We'll do something like some blood icicles which is a little bit of blood kind of mixed in with some water and we put it into a frozen trough. That way, they kind of get something tasty and yummy to lick. It's a delicious snack, if you're an carnivore." said Mr. Hils.

He says at the end of the day, protecting the animals is no different from what any pet owner should do when there's extreme heat; provide shade and plenty of water.

The zoo director says during these times they watch older animals carefully because they can't handle the heat as well as younger creatures.