Zoo animals cool off with ice and showers in California

STORY: These California zoo animals are cooling off with ice cubes and cold showers

during what experts are calling a ‘dangerous heatwave’

Location: Santa Barbara, California

[Trent Barnhart / Animal nutritionist / Santa Barbara Zoo]

“Whether it's a little bit of small ice cubes for animals or whether it's a really large ice block, we do need to take into account for the physiology of the animal, the size of the animal, also the number of the animals. We don't want competition over like an ice block. If it's for a group of animals, that's where maybe a bunch of small ice cubes might be more appropriate, instead of providing just one solid ice block for them.”

In the lion enclosure, handlers are leaving out joints of meat wrapped in ice

They’re also being given ice blocks made with meat flavor to try to keep them cool

“They got some ice blocks which are made out of beef bone broth, as well as some diluted goat's milk on it. And by providing that little bit of extra flavor to it, the animals, they might lick it, get a little bit of that extra hydration and cooling that they might not even realize. So we're kind of tricking them into helping them stay cool.”

This emu named Banjo enjoyed a 15-minute shower

[Kelly Summers / Animal carer / Santa Barbara Zoo]

“He loves the dripping action that comes off of his body. He loves the sensation of the coolness. And he loves to preen his own feathers, so he could do this all day.”

Animal nutritionist Trent Barnhart is making iced snacks in the 'animal kitchen'

[Trent Barnhart / Animal nutritionist / Santa Barbara Zoo]

“I’m adding In a little bit of tuna to each bowl, and then we're just going to simply add some water to it, throw it in our deep freezer at about negative thirty degrees, and then in no time we will have ice block treats for our Asian small clawed otters.”

Peeta and Gail lead the otter family with their five pups

The water in their enclosure was replaced with two hundred pounds of ice cubes

“The otters absolutely love it. You know, this is a nice, warm day for them. They're always going to be playing in the water. But by providing the extra ice for them, it's a little bit, it's going to be a little bit more cooling refreshing for them. It's also going to be something more novel stimulating for them, both mentally and physically as well. So the ice has multiple benefits for animals.”

“People love when I go to the store and say, ‘Hey, I need 200 pounds of ice.’ 'What do you need that for?' 'Oh, it's for the otters.' And everybody loves it. They love to hear about it. They love to hear the stories that we're taking a little bit extra care, providing ice to cool down our animals during this heat wave.”