Huge heat, ice cold ideas: Animals at the Virginia Zoo are beating the heat

NORFOLK, Va. - We aren't the only ones dealing with this week's opressive heat wave in Hampton Roads.

Seven hundred animals at the Virginia Zoo are also seeking out shade.

"First thing that comes to my mind is the red pandas. They are from the Himalayas; they prefer colder temperatures," said zookeeper Jennah Moore Matthews.

Christopher the tiger enjoys a frosty "blood-sicle"

On Wednesday, the Zoo's red panda was perched and panting high above in a shaded tree. Others seemed to be just fine in the summer sum.

"TheĀ  giraffe, the zebra, the Watusi cattle -- those guys are kinda out in the exhibits and not too fazed by the heat," Moore Matthews explained.

Moore Matthews says most of the animal are adapting just like we are - taking short breaks in the shade or long cat naps.

"When it's really hot, you're kinda gonna be a little lazier, which is to be expected," she said.

All of the animals at the Zoo have climate-controlled homes they can cool off in, as well as ponds, pools and shade trees or other coverings.

Related: Officials urging Hampton Roads residents to take action against extreme heatĀ 

"Some animals really enjoy misters. We have a lot of birds that get into that, and apes like that, too," she said.

The Zoo also has creative ways to keep the critters cool. Today News 3 watched as Christopher the tiger indulged in a frosty "blood-sicle."

"We always try to do fun things like Popsicle puzzles, frozen treats -- things to make it fun," said Moore Matthews.

Most animals know how to instinctively keep cool, but they are constantly being monitored by on-site staff.

"We watch out for extreme lethargy, if they are are panting excessively -- we wanna make sure they have access to water and shade. Those are super important," she said.

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