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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Ask a Vet: Pet Hydration 101!

This is a guest blog by Kristin Budinich, VMD, of the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).

July is Pet Hydration Month, and with summer in full swing, keeping your pet hydrated in the heat and humidity is essential for keeping them healthy and preventing illness.

Just like people, your pet’s body is made up of mostly water—about 80 percent. Water is essential for every important bodily function, and without it, they wouldn’t survive. In addition to helping with food digestion and nutrient absorption, water helps our pets regulate their body temperature (which is especially important in the summer because dogs don’t sweat) and flush toxins out of the body.  

While we may scrutinize the ingredient list on a bag of food to select a high quality diet for our pet, most of us don’t give nearly enough attention to the other important part of overall nutrition: water! Our pets require adequate amounts of water each day so that their bodies can stay healthy.

How much water does your pet actually need?

As a general rule, dogs should drink approximately one ounce of water per pound of body weight each day. Activity levels and environmental factors will obviously play a role; dogs that are more active require more water, while sedentary pets in cooler environments may require less. Dogs regulate their body temperature mainly by panting, so these water losses will need to be replaced on those hot summer days.

Drink up, pup!

Since most of us are in the habit of just filling the water bowl and plopping it on the ground until it’s empty and we fill it again, how can you be sure that your pet is getting enough water?

  • Measure the amount of water that you pour into your pet’s bowl. This is easy enough, and can help you monitor intake. Remember that canned food is about 70 to 80 percent water, so pets that eat canned food may drink less than those on a dry diet.
  • Ensure that fresh water is available at all times, and that the water bowl is large enough, not tippable and cleaned regularly.
  • Cats may prefer a water fountain of continuously circulating water if they tend to enjoy drinking from the sink.
  • If your pet frequently moves throughout the house, place water sources on each floor of the home where they most often spend their time.
  • A portable water bowl should be taken on walks, or brought outside during longer play periods.
  • Ice cubes can be added to the dog’s water bowl or given as a treat. Oral electrolyte solutions or broths are available for finicky drinkers, and edible liquids can also be frozen into Kong toys for added fun and a yummy treat!

To each their own, right?

Remember that pets with illnesses such as diabetes or kidney diseases may have increased thirst compared to their healthy counterparts, but if your pet hasn’t been diagnosed with one of these things and they are constantly at the water bowl, a visit to the veterinarian is in order.

How do you know if your pet is dehydrated?

Telltale signs of dehydration include sticky gums, sunken eyes or decreased activity. Check your pet’s “skin tent” for a quick assessment of hydration by gently lifting up on the skin between your animal’s shoulder blades, then watching how quickly it falls back into place. Normally, the skin should fall right back into place, but in a dehydrated animal, there is a delay because the skin is less elastic. Pets who are chronically dehydrated may have a dry, flaky hair coat that lacks luster.

Ensuring that pets are well-hydrated is important not just during Pet Hydration month, but throughout their entire lives!

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Dr. Budinich is a veterinarian at PAWS, which offers low-cost spay/neuter and basic veterinary care to pet owners and rescue organizations that cannot otherwise access or afford care. PAWS’ clinics enable struggling pet owners to keep their pets as part of their families, rather than surrendering them to shelters. Reducing the number of animals that face homelessness is part of PAWS’ overall mission to make Philadelphia a no-kill city where every healthy and treatable pet is guaranteed a home. For more information or to adopt, foster, donate, or volunteer, please visit www.phillypaws.org.

 

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Asset Management Program Helps us Invest in Water Infrastructure

 

By Aqua President and Chief Executive Officer Christopher Franklin

Chris Franklin spoke to industry experts who visited Philadelphia from around the world at the recent American Water Works Association annual conference. Here’s a synopsis of what he shared during his panel.

Aqua works every day across our eight states to deliver safe drinking water to customers, and to return wastewater responsibly to the environment. But as the nation’s water infrastructure ages, there is a greater need for significant investment in rebuilding or replacing the systems that deliver and store water and wastewater. As a best practice, Aqua constantly repairs and replaces old, outdated facilities, water main, water and wastewater plants, and well stations across service territories.

To help face the challenges of repairing and replacing infrastructure on a large scale, Aqua began developing a formal, enterprise-wide asset management program. Aqua’s asset management program tracks assets based on risk  and ensures that the appropriate proactive maintenance, repairs and upgrades occur based on those risk scores.  Aqua is developing plans across a variety of assets including wells, water distribution systems, wastewater facilities, wastewater collection systems and surface water treatment plants. Having a robust asset management program in place ensures that all systems remain in good working order, can improve response to emergencies and helps meet customer expectations for good service. 

  

Aqua based the company-wide program on the U.S. EPA Asset Management Framework, which is widely used by water and wastewater utilities. This framework asks:

·   What is the current state of the assets?

·   What is the required sustainable level of service?

·   Which assets are critical to sustained performance?

·   What are the minimum life-cycle costs?

·   What is the best long-term funding strategy?

By developing the program with the EPA’s guidance, Aqua is able to extend the life of assets and make more informed decisions about maintenance, repair or replacement. Aqua Pennsylvania has successfully used this framework for more than 20 years and continues to see improvements in its infrastructure improvement efforts, thanks to the employees who contribute every day to our asset management program. Over the last 10 years, Aqua Pennsylvania has averaged 128 miles of water main replacements per year, and over that time, we’ve seen customer complaints about water quality significantly decrease. There’s a clear connection there. And we’ve got plans to invest $292 million in replacements, improvements, and a significant water meter exchange program by the end of 2017. 

At Aqua, we see it as a great responsibility to replace aging infrastructure and deliver reliable drinking water and wastewater services to our customers. We will continue to build valuable internal processes like asset management that allow us to continue our mission to protect and provide Earth’s most essential resource.

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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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