Humans aren't the only creatures in Bakersfield trying to stay cool during the summer heat; many of our four-legged or winged friends need shade and frozen treats just as much as us.
As temperatures heat up during the summer months, zookeepers and other animal handlers have to take extra precautions when it comes to caring for animals. How animals respond to the heat all depends on their age, species and environment, explained Lana Fain, CALM zoo manager.
"Our animals, they're wildlife, but there are some that are here that live in higher elevations (in the wild) like Pebbles our porcupine," she said. "She doesn’t enjoy the heat a lot."
The keepers will make ice blocks filled with special treats animals enjoy, such as watermelons for coyotes or corn on the cob for porcupines. Other animals have misters, sprinklers or air conditioning in their habitat, lay next to big frozen bottles of water, cool off in ponds with ice or keepers will spray animals with water.
Misters are also out with farm animals, such as the zoo's pony, donkeys and pigs. Staff will also shear the sheep a certain time of year so they are well taken care of and cool during the summer.
There are certain animals that simply can't handle heat well so they are kept indoors all summer.
"For rabbits, they don’t take heat well. When it’s above 88 or 89 degrees, the keepers bring him in for the summer," Fain explained. "With our other animals, many have misters. If it’ll be 98 degrees and above, they’ll leave them on all day and night. We keep an eye on the weather."
For animals part of the wildlife rehabilitation program, Fain explained keepers will watch out for temperatures so they are not released during extreme times. If temperatures reach 100 degrees or above, keepers will hold birds back because "they’re all young birds that are raised here, and we want to give them the best opportunity to be strong and successful."
The zoo is also holding Twilight at CALM this Saturday, Aug. 17 and 31, where hours are extended until 8 p.m. and people and animals can enjoy cooler weather outside.
Even our beloved pets need special care during the summer months. Pet owners should keep homes cool, provide plenty of water and not leave animals in cars or pickup truck beds.
"Keep your pets inside, and if you're afraid of ripped furniture, keep a kennel inside the house and provide lots of water," said Alexa Sinden from North of the River Veterinary Hospital. "If they’re kenneled outside, keep them under shade and have water ... Don’t have your pets running around outside too much."
There are also products available to keep pets cool, such as cooling towels and mats and mini pools.