Animal Hydration is a Priority at the Philadelphia Zoo

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This is a guest blog by the Philadelphia Zoo.

At the Philadelphia Zoo, keeping animals cool and hydrated is an important part of caring for the 1,300 animals that call America’s first zoo home.

Depending on the animal, there are a variety of ways to keep the residents at the Zoo chill in the warm summer months, including mud wallows, misters, swimming pools (indoor and outdoor), access to air conditioned indoor areas and, of course, lots of water. Each species may prefer or need something different, and zookeepers work to provide what is best for the animal they care for.

For Tony, our southern white rhinoceros, mud wallows in his exhibit seem to work best. Keepers excavate a large area and fill it up with fresh water and watch Tony roll around and frolic in the mud. Besides the fun and the ability to cool down, the mud bath offers a variety of benefits to Tony, including providing a natural UV buffer to protect his skin and defense against pesky insects.

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Mammals like Amur tigers, snow leopards and red pandas always have access to their indoor areas if they want to go inside to hang out in air conditioning. Hippos, tigers, polar bears, otters and more have large swimming pools and area water misters if they want to take a quick dip to cool off. Of course, every animal at the Zoo has continuous access to fresh drinking water. 

Additionally, keepers provide frozen and delectable ice treats as another creative way to keep the animals cool and hydrated. Many animal residents are treated to refreshments like peanut butter, sweet potatoes, or other snacks that have been frozen in ice.

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Icy delicacies like fishsicles are a favorite for our giant river otters and polar bear. Frozen fish like smelt and trout are not only a vital part of our otter’s diet, but they also act as a refreshing treat and are always a welcome snack!

No matter the species, the well-being of every animal at the Zoo is the number one priority. As America’s first zoo, we offer well-established animal care programs and work with dedicated teams to ensure the best care for all of the wildlife living within our historic gates.

On your next Zoo visit, keep an eye out for our animal residents and the unique ways they keep cool and hydrated!

 

 

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Keeping Animals Hydrated in Hot Summer Months with Elmwood Park Zoo

A little bird told us that Pet Hydration Month is officially in full swing. We’re continuing to have some fun while learning about just how important it is for all animals, big or small, to get enough water.

Throughout the month of July, we have special guests and animal experts lined up to offer advice about keeping pets and other animals as hydrated as possible.

This week, we spoke to Hannah Fullmer, Lead Keeper and Behavioral Husbandry Coordinator at the Elmwood Park Zoo, about the intricacies of keeping zoo animals happy and hydrated. Read our interview below!

Q: As humans, we’re supposed to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. With so many animals to look after, how do you determine how much water each one needs?

A: Not a lot is known about exact amounts of water that some animals need, as it can be hard to measure in the wild. We do know that some animals have developed special ways to deal with living in a dry environment or when access to water is limited. Giraffes are one example; they have specialized kidneys that absorb more water from their food so they don’t have to drink as often or as much as you would think. Also, while kangaroos don’t sweat to cool off like we do, they actually will lick their forearms until they are soaked. As that evaporates, their bodies cool down.

What about reptilian and amphibian zoo animals? How do their hydration needs differ from some of the other animals?

Our reptiles are on a soaking schedule. Most of them are soaked every other week, which helps with their water absorption from their cloacae. Amphibians are misted on a daily basis because their skin actually helps them absorb water as well.

What are some of the techniques you use to make sure water is always accessible when needed? How does the watering system work?

A watering system that is used in many zoos is called a Nelson Waterer or automatic waterer. They are built on a counterbalance system and hook up directly to a water line so that the animal is never without water. Most of our animals have exhibits that are built with these systems. We let the animals self-hydrate since they know themselves best. For exhibits that are smaller and may not fit a water system or have access to a water line, we offer buckets of water or bowls.

Hydration becomes more important than ever during the summertime. What extra measures are taken to keep the animals safe and healthy during the warmer months?

When temperatures climb high, zookeepers know to monitor animals extra closely. We prepare ice blocks, frozen treats, misting systems and extra water bowls and buckets. We will use hoses and misters to make mud wallows for some of our larger hoof stock like the elk, who can often be seen drinking from the misters instead of letting the water turn into a pool of mud. 

What signs do you look for to know whether an animal is hydrated enough or needs extra attention to its hydration levels?

A lot of animals will show signs of dehydration similar to a human: pale, grey and tacky gums, tented or stiff skin and lethargy.

Finally, when designing a new habitat for an animal to call home, how much of an effect do their water needs have on shaping the exhibit? What do you take into consideration?

We take natural history into consideration when developing new exhibits and creating features, such as wallows and water systems. We recently developed a new exhibit for our jaguars, which we know are water-loving cats. We made sure to develop the exhibit with a large, easily cleaned, easily accessible water feature. This way, the jaguars can submerge themselves in the stream, wade and drink at their leisure. We use a UV cleaning system so that there won’t be chemicals in the water, and we test the water in our exhibits regularly.

The otter pool, on the other hand, does receive some chlorination because as a species, otters tend to defecate in water. We know to also offer them potable water in their exhibits. We manage their system to have a chlorination that’s lower than the lowest allowed standard for human swimming pools.

Thanks, Hannah! We love learning about all the creatures who live in our communities and how important water is to a happy and hydrated way of life. Check back soon for more conversations and hydration advice from the experts.

Don’t forget to share photos of your pets playing with, drinking or bathing in water on our Facebook or Twitter pages. We’ll pick our favorites and share them throughout the month!

Photos courtesy of Elmwood Park Zoo

 

 

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Raise a Paw if You’re Happy and Hydrated

 

July is here, and with that comes Pet Hydration Month! We already know how important drinking water is to human bodies, but it’s even more important for our furry friends. Their bodies are made up of 80 percent water, while humans are only made up of 55 to 60 percent.

At Aqua, we’re invested in the well being of animals because we know that families and communities consist of many different types of living creatures that require care. That’s why we don’t just stop at making sure that pets are getting enough water—we want every animal to be happy and hydrated.

You might think pet hydration could actually be a dry topic, but we’ve got some fun friends on board to give you the scoop about keeping pets and animals safe and content all through the dog days of summer (plus the cat and bird days, too).

Hear from the pets…

Remember Fred Wags and Felicia Fluff from our video about protecting pets and pipes from the winter cold? They’re back this season with another important message about pet safety, and they’ve even brought a new friend to help them out. Meet Fernando Feathers!

Make sure you keep an eye on our Twitter page this month. Every Friday, you might just see Fred, Felicia or Fernando take over our account to share their suggestions about how to make sure your furry and feathery companions are living their best and most hydrated lives.

...and the pros, too!

Nothing beats hearing facts straight from the experts, so we have partnered with some guest bloggers to talk about all things related to pet and animal hydration. Our friends at PhillyPAWS, Elmwood Park Zoo and the Philadelphia Zoo will contribute to the hydration conversation with their expansive knowledge of everything involved in keeping animals hydrated. Stay tuned!

Who has the cutest (and most hydrated) pet?

Last but not least, we want to hear from you! Reply to any of our Pet Hydration Month posts on Twitter and Facebook with pictures of your pets drinking or playing in water, and we’ll be sure to share. Plus, we’ll even “crown” our favorites as the most hydrated pets of Summer 2017! Just think—your pet could be the new best friend of Fred, Felicia and Fernando.

Do you have a pet as cute (and as hydrated) as these pups? Send a photo our way and help us promote a safe, water-filled summer for all!

 

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Aqua Cares About Bugs, and You Should Too

Why would a compliance guy at Aqua America care about bugs in the IllinoisKankakee River when most people try to avoid or kill bugs?

 

Kevin M. Culver of Aqua America

First off, I am not an entomologist (aka a bug expert) so why do I care about bugs? This is the first question I ask when conducting a source water presentation or manning our source water display booth at events.

Most of the responses I receive, depending on the age of the participant, are that:

·      Bugs are bad and need to be eliminated

·      Bugs are part of the food chain necessary to sustain life in the river

Both responses are somewhat correct but not exactly why I care. We do not want bugs in our drinking water but they are an important part of the food chain.

I care about the bugs because one can determine the health of a stream by the number and type of bugs living in the stream. Not only can the bugs be used to determine water quality, but fish and fresh water mussels can also be used as biological indicators of water quality.

 

Bugs And Your Water   

So what are macro-invertebrates (macros)? These include aquatic insect such as larvae, worms, leeches and snails that can be found under rocks, attached to plants and in the bottom sediments of rivers and streams.

Not all macros that are found indicate species of water quality. In fact, only 36 different groups of macros make up the specimens used to determine water quality.

 

The 36 Groups: What You Need to Know

As a citizen scientist through the River Watch program, I have been trained on techniques on how to properly collect and identify the water quality indicator of macro-invertebrates. 

I collect bugs at four assigned sites annually within the Kankakee watershed, located in the northeastern part of Illinois. The same sites are used each year to determine water quality at that instant and to trend this result against previous sampling events.

Each of the 36 indicator species is assigned a tolerance value (TV) to pollution between “0” being completely intolerant to pollution and “11” being highly tolerant to pollution.

The weighted average tolerance value of all the bugs collected at a site is the water quality indicator, officially known as the Macro-invertebrate Biological Index (MBI).

If a bug is intolerant to pollution, it means it hasn't acclimated to pollution, which mean the river is clean. If a bug is tolerant to pollution, it means the bug has indeed been exposed to pollution - so much so that its body has changed its reaction to pollution. 

So when Aqua tells everyone that the Kankakee River is one of the “cleanest” rivers in the Midwest, it's the bugs that prove it. The water quality in Rock Creek in the Kankakee State Park is one of the few sites in Illinois that are statistically getting cleaner, according to the bug results.

This year I also collected 849 bugs from my Kankakee River site that had the lowest ever average tolerance value (MBI) at 4.29.

 

Why Should You Care About the Bugs?  

Along with just being cool, they are an integral part of our source water protection plan. You can determine water quality by which bugs are present or absent and they are a great way to educate and demonstrate to young and old about the importance of source water protection.

 

 

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Five Ways to Keep Your Pets Hydrated This Summer

As humans, we know that we need to drink clean water often, especially during the hot summer months. However, our pets don’t know how much water they should drink and depend on us to provide fresh and clean water for them.

Since July is National Pet Hydration Awareness month, here are a few tips for keeping your pets happy and hydrated this summer.

Image: https://pixabay.com/en/puppy-golden-retriever-dog-1207816/

1. Provide fresh water daily

You wouldn’t want to drink water that’s been sitting out all day and neither does your pet. Providing fresh and clean water at least once a day encourages your pet to drink more often. If your pet drinks a lot of water or if you work long hours, you could consider a pet drinking fountain.The fountain continuously moves the water, ensuring that it is oxygenated and clean.

2. Monitor drinking habits

Cats and dogs are made up of 80 percent water. That’s 20 percent more than humans. Your pet should drink an ounce of water for every pound that it weighs. If example if your cat weighs eight pounds, it should drink eight ounces of water a day. You can monitor this by measuring the amount of water you put into your pet’s bowl and measuring the amount of water left when you replenish it.

3. Keep them out of the heat

In 2015, July was the hottest month of the year. When you’re relaxing in the air conditioning, don’t forget about your pets! Try to keep your pets inside on hot days. If your pet is outside, give it an ample amount of cool water and ensure it is in a shady area. You can also rub your pets with a damp towel to keep them cool. 

Image: https://pixabay.com/en/cat-kitten-drink-water-mackerel-1196374/

4. Limit exercise and physical activity

Your pup probably loves and looks forward to its daily walks. On a hot day, it’s not a good idea to take your dog on a run or participate in any strenuous outdoor exercise. If you do go out, be sure to bring water for your dog to drink along the way and try to walk it in the morning or evening when it’s cooler.

5. Check for warning signs of dehydration

Cats and dogs cool down in a different way than humans. Cats sweat through their paws and dogs pant. Check for dehydration in your pets by performing the skin test. Other signs of dehydration can include fatigue, dry mouth and loss of appetite. If you suspect that your pet might be dehydrated, get them to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

Water is a necessity that can often be forgotten when it comes to pets. Always provide fresh and clean water and keep your pets out of the heat. Your pets will thank you! 

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