Fish juice cubes? Just one method of keeping animals cool in hot weather

Cathy Bayer

Fish juice ice, mud wallows and a close shave. Domestic pets aren’t the only ones that need extra attention in the summer.

Animals at the Peoria Zoo at Glen Oak Park and Wildlife Prairie State Park in Edwards also have some extra help keeping cool.

Some zoo animals are given ice blocks with lemon in it to lick or rub up against to cool down.

The tigers get ice blocks made of fish juice, or even frozen fish. They also get a larger pool of water in their habitat. On extra hot days, the tigers will go for a swim, exposing only their heads in the pool.

Every animal has a water source, but for the summer’s hot months, the source usually expands, said Tammy Schmidt, curator of animals at the zoo. Tortoises and tigers are sometimes given sprinklers for extra water.

Most animals also have a house or barn, and all have a source of shade. Some are given less bedding so less heat is trapped in their habitat.

The llama and sheep have been shaved, and usually get their summer haircut between June and July.

"Though they do shed, this helps," Schmidt said.

All animals have an access to an ample amount of shade at the wildlife park, said Nancy Ream, animal curator.

Each animal also has access to fresh water, most by an automatic refill, year round.

In the summer, birds are hosed with a mist of cool water and also given shade cloths.

The park also puts up fly traps, which park workers try to conceal from the public.

"When they start to get filled, they’re pretty smelly," Ream said.

They’re there to help keep flies away from the animals’ food, but benefit the public, too, Ream said.

Both kinds of turtles at the zoo get puddles of mud to bathe in. They’ll start out occasionally dipping in the mud wallow, but by the end of the day will be covered in mud.

"It sounds gross, but it works," Schmidt said.

Cathy Bayer can be reached at 686-3196 or