Frozen Treats Giving Animals At The Tulsa Zoo Relief From The Heat

Tuesday, August 3rd 2010, 5:19 pm
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The heat makes it hot to do much of anything, whether you're on two legs or four.

The Tulsa Zoo lost an animal last winter because of the cold and they don't want another tragedy due to the heat.

From a cool drink to a fine mist of water, keeping cool at the zoo is a priority for visitors.

8/3/2010 Related Story: Dangerous Heat Settles Over NE Oklahoma

That goes for the residents, too. The chimpanzees enjoyed a midday break of popsicles made with sugar free Crystal Lite and filled with fruit.

Hope was sitting in the water; she found a quick way to get to the treat in the middle.

"It's kind of funny how they go in the water and they try to melt the popsicles," said Kaiya Weston, who is 10-years-old.

The frozen treats are just one of several ways the animals beat the heat in summer. Most seek shade, like the rhinoceros, but the zoo also keeps the doors open to the dens for the big cats and bears.

They say it's like a cave in the dens -- cool with plenty of ventilation.

The zoo is coming off a tragic winter when Amira the giraffe died because of hypothermia. Zoo veterinarian, Dr. Kay Backues, says her death hasn't changed their focus, but they make sure the zookeepers are constantly checking on the animals.

6/3/2010 Related Story: Tulsa Zoo Faces Fine, Violations Over Death Of Giraffe

"Just being very vigilant, making sure the animals are comfortable and if they're not doing what they need to do, whatever we need to do to make sure they are," Dr. Backues said.

Each popsicle is specially made for each breed of animal and longtime volunteer Joe Enloe is the chef.

"I'm the popsicle queen," Enloe said.

Some popsicles, she said, have frozen fish inside, some ground beef, and then there's one they call the rat pop -- a frozen rat for those rodent loving carnivores.

It's a job Enloe loves, and the nature of the frozen delight doesn't seem to bother her.

"After you've raised three boys and then you've worked with animals, you don't get turned off by too much," she said.

Zoo officials said the best time to visit the zoo in the summer is when it first opens at 9 a.m., that's when the animals are most active. The zoo closes at 5 p.m. and is open every day of the year except for Christmas Day and the third Friday in June. The cost is $8 for adults and $4 for children ages 3-11.