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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Just Add Water: Aqua’s Guide to Summer 2017

The sun is out and you’ve (hopefully) stopped sneezing from those pesky spring allergies—it must be summertime! With warm weather and longer days come plenty of opportunities for adventure and relaxation alike.

From water activities to plain-old silly fun, here’s everything we recommend for making Summer 2017 a season to remember.

Visit a Water Park

Image via Mariamichelle

Between splashing around in a wave pool or relaxing on a lazy river, there are activities for the whole family at a water park. You can even make an adventure out of it and take a road trip to some of the best water parks in America.

Or… Bring the Water Park to You

Image via Tama66

If you want to bring your fun in the sun a little closer to home, there are plenty of warm weather activities to do in your own backyard. Stay cool and have a blast by getting the kiddie pool ready, breaking out the old slip ‘n slide or indulging in our ideas for a little wacky water outdoor fun.

Watch a Summer Movie

Image via dbreen

Escape the heat in a cool, dark theater for a couple of hours or get the popcorn going and gather around on the couch for a movie. We’ve even got a list of classic H2O-related movies for the whole family to enjoy if the pool or beach is a little too far away.

Visit a Farmer’s Market

Image via Erik Scheel

Support your local farms this summer by getting out to a farmer’s market. Enjoy the fresh, delicious seasonal produce and maybe even pick up some fruit to create your favorite flavored water. If you need some help dipping your toes into upgrading your drinking water this summer, we’ve got you covered.

View Fireworks

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Everyone knows to expect fireworks on the Fourth of July, but many towns host displays all summer long. Check your local event calendars for weekly or monthly fireworks, and let the spectacle continue beyond Independence Day.

Want to continue your seasonal celebration past the Fourth of July with some more unique celebrations? Here are some lesser-known holidays that are fun to observe.

National Hammock Day (July 22)

Pretend you’re on a tropical vacation by the ocean and get in on National Hammock Day! We recommend some shade and a good book for optimal relaxation.

National Watermelon Day (August 3)

Watermelon has “water” right in its name—how could it not be an Aqua-favorite fruit? On August 3, make a point to enjoy some watermelon, whether it’s sliced, diced or in your drinking water—we’ve even got a recipe right here.

National Tell a Joke Day (August 16)

Everyone enjoys a good joke—no matter how cheesy. On National Tell a Joke Day, make it your goal to give someone a serious case of the giggles. Here are a couple of our favorite jokes:

Is it dangerous to swim on a full stomach?

Yes. It’s better to swim in water.

 

What did the ocean say to the other ocean?

Nothing—it just waved.

No matter what you do to celebrate the season, it’s important to remember to stay hydrated. From splashing around at the waterpark to making refreshing beverages, water is truly the key to a fun and safe summer.

What’s your favorite way to use water to keep cool?

 

 

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6 Ways to Hydrate Like an Olympian

Ever wonder how Olympic athletes stay hydrated? With the 2016 Summer Olympics underway, that question has been on our minds a lot. Sometimes we just want to know how many glasses of water it takes Michael Phelps to swim in peak condition. That’s why we decided to do a little digging to discover exactly how Olympic superstars like Phelps replenish their energy in order to take the home the gold.

Sweat it off

Olympic athletes need to drink before, during and after their training sessions and competitions. Sweating is the body’s way of controlling temperature, and athletes do a lot of it over the course of a day. Constant water breaks are a surefire way to recharge your system and keep you at peak performance. 

Don’t go for the gold

What exactly does healthy, hydrated urine look like? Mostly clear! The more water you drink, the more diluted your pee urine becomes. If your urine is darker in color and has a strong odor, then you’re definitely dehydrated. No worries, though: All you need to do to fix the problem is have a couple more glasses of water a day.

Burn, baby, burn

Consuming thousands of calories a day is a necessity for Olympians. They burn off most of what they eat while competing and then need to replenish themselves in order to keep up muscle mass. Drinking more water not only helps athletes stay refreshed, but it also improves digestion and reduces stomach pains. (That must be a nice bonus after eating all that food.)

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Glass half full

Athletes may give it 110 percent when racing, swimming or pole vaulting, but their bodies are only made up of about half that percentage in water. If an Olympian loses more than two percent of their weight in water, they will begin to lose their mental edge. Staying hydrated both prevents fatigue and keeps the mind and reflexes sharp for optimal Olympic performance.

Drink more than you think

One of the biggest misconceptions about hydration is that you only need to drink water when you physically feel thirsty. In reality it’s already too late. By drinking water (or other beverages with high water content) every so often you can prevent dehydration from sneaking up on you. This is especially important if you’re out in the sun for prolonged periods of time. Pro tip: By carrying a reusable water bottle with you at all times, you’ll be more likely to take sips throughout the day.

Be a good sport

We know we talk a lot about water, but hey, that’s what we do best. However, one of the best ways to make sure you stay as healthy as possible is to consume sports drinks in addition to your regular water intake. Sports drinks contain electrolytes that help to replace the sodium athletes lose when they sweat.

 

We all need to stay hydrated, but athletes need to work on it a little bit more than the rest of us. To keep yourself hydrated, check out these hacks. If you take these hydration tips to heart, who knows — maybe you’ll be up on a podium wearing the gold one day!

 

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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.

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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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