THE MID-July heat wave resulted in a decline in the number of visitors to the Bratislava zoo. One particularly hot weekend, with temperatures reaching almost 40°C, saw only slightly more than 1,100 visitors. On a cooler weekend in mid July, when temperatures hovered around 28°C, 5,600 people came to view the animals.
During the whole of July, 46,339 people visited the local zoo, the SITA newswire wrote.
The zoo’s staff tries to make the animals as comfortable as possible in the heat. Some of the species endure the heat by sleeping in the shade, while others actually enjoy the sun. The zoo keepers provide showers for some of them, like the rhinos, which are showered every day if the temperature rises over 30°C.
Rhinos also protect themselves from the sun by rolling about in mud.
“It serves as a kind of sun-protecting cream,” Katarína Matejovičová from the education department of the zoo said. “When the mud falls from the skin, it removes various mites and parasites, so one could say that the mud is also a repellent.”
Pygmy pigs, deer, capybaras and sitatungas have mud lakes, too. Ostriches are also given showers; they love the water and even try to drink from the hosepipe.
Matejovičová said that while some animals love warm weather, others are not well suited to it.
“Animals coming originally from more northern areas do not have such temperatures in their natural habitats: like the snowy owl, or Canadian lynxes, so they do not like the heat,” she explained. “But animals like lemurs or suricates absorb sunrays eagerly: you can see lemurs in a so-called yoga position, totally relaxing in the sun.” She added that both lemurs and suricates have dark circles around their eyes which help absorb the sun and prevent their eyes from being damaged.
The basic requirements for hot days are to provide shade for all animals in their pens, and sufficient water. Chimpanzees get water mixed with fruit juice, as they like the sweet flavour, while some animals are given pieces of fruit or vegetables frozen together with water. In summer, animals are active mainly in the mornings and in the evenings, when temperatures are lower.
“At noon, visitors mainly get to see African animals, like giraffes, zebras or suricates, which are used to the heat,” Matejovičová concluded.
12. Aug 2013 at 0:00 | Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská