Bloodsicles served in zoos during heat wave

By Kristen Butler, UPI.com   |   July 19, 2013 at 12:50 PM   |   Comments

July 19 (UPI) -- As the eastern United States continues weathering a heat wave, zookeepers and vets remind everyone that animals get hot, too.

It's even too hot and humid for meerkats in Wisconsin and ostriches in Boston.

"It's not the heat that these animals are not used to but the humidity" said Theresa Donarski, curator of conservation and animal care at the Racine Zoo in Wisconsin. "Even the meerkats from Africa can't handle the heat, so all the animals are getting attention and being kept cool."

That special attention includes zookeepers freezing leftover blood from the lions' and tigers' meals, then serving the "bloodsicles" back to the carnivores.

And all the animals are sprayed constantly with cool mist in extreme heat.

If bloodsicles aren't right for you, zookeepers say frozen fruit popsicles can be given to any wild or domestic fruit-loving animal. It's frozen apple juice for the birds at Franklin Park Zoo in Boston.

Or for a simpler remedy, ice. "My dog loves to chew on ice, and it is a great way to cool it down," Donarski said.

For pet owners, vets say that if it's too hot for you it's too hot for your pet -- especially dogs. Though it should go without saying, veterinarians warn that pets should never be left in a vehicle without air conditioning. Even truck beds can be risky.

"What people forget about is in the back of a truck, dogs are usually fine since the wind is cooling them off, but when the driver hits traffic and the animal has the sun beating on them unprotected, they easily overheat," said veterinarian Marla Lichtenberger.

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