Lufkin zoo animals are keeping cool in this summer's heat

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Have you ever wondered why the animals at the zoo don't seem to suffer from the summer heat? Zoo keepers say they've put the perfect plans in place, so these animals don't get sick or even worse, die, in the hot conditions.

"Animals are smart. They know where to sit to keep cool," said Ellen Trout Zoo Collections Manager, Crissy Hall.

Laying in the shade or soaking in the water, "residents" of the Ellen Trout Zoo are beating the heat in this summer's triple digit heat. For zoo keepers, that means changing up daily activities in order to keep the animals in good health.

"We don't try to overstress them. We don't plan activities with them in the heat. And, if we have to do something, we try to do it early in the morning. And, if we're going to have real persistent heat, then we'll do things where they get shade. And, they get sprinkler systems going," said Ellen Trout Zoo Director, Gordon Henley.

We're told an animal's health can go downhill just as swiftly as an animal can overheat.

"An animal can go downhill very quickly, if it's not caught. So, we really try to pay attention to the behaviors of our animals. We know what's normal for them. And, we can usually tell when heat is becoming an issue," said Hall.

Behavioral changes tend to be the fastest indicator that an animal is getting too hot.

"Heavy breathing, they might be laying down and doing behaviors that they're not normally doing," said Henley.

Luckily, no animal has been removed from its exhibit due to the heat this summer. Typically, northern animals have a harder time enduring East Texas summers, which is why the zoo is mostly populated by those that are accustomed to extreme heat and humidity.

"Our native animals are a lot easier. I still like to give them a sprinkle every once in awhile, because you know, they like it. They enjoy it. It's fun for them," said Hall.

Zoo keepers say if you happen to notice an animal looking sick, don't hesitate to let them know. They take every notice seriously and will check into the health of their animals.

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