Hot enough for ya?

Kandula and Shanthi enjoy a dip.

Kandula and Shanthi enjoy a dip.

It’s the middle of summer and much of the country is embroiled in a historic heat wave, so it’s time for that summertime favorite of lazy journalists everywhere: the “it’s really hot” story.

Let’s see how animals at the National Zoo are coping with the record-breaking heat (mainly because it’s an excuse to post a lot of pictures of cute animals.)

  • Most of the animals that can go outside are offered a choice year round—to go outside or to stay in their indoor exhibit. Most indoor exhibits have air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter. Most animals figure this out and act accordingly.
  • Giant pandas have air-conditioned and water-chilled grottos to relax in. They have air-conditioning indoors. They’re not huge fans of heat, so on hot days they mostly stay inside, snacking and watching reruns of Gossip Girls. Your life sucks compared to a giant panda’s.
  • Many animals are offered delicious and refreshing fruitsicles as part of enrichment. Fruitsicles are diluted fruit juice frozen with cut-up chunks of fresh fruit in them. Not only pandas, but also gorillas, elephants and other bears enjoy these treats, too. We agree that a frozen fruitsicle would enrich our day right about now, too.
  • Many animals, including Andean bears, pandas, lions, tigers and anteaters, have outdoor pools to splash in. Some animals are already acclimated to the heat and actually enjoy it. Some, like the naked mole rat, just slather on the sunscreen and hit the beach.

Human visitors to the Zoo can buy their own popsicles but there’s no swimming allowed. Sorry.

Be sure to check out the Zoo’s Flickr page for more summer fun.

Posted: 19 July 2013
About the Author:

Alex di Giovanni has been editing The Torch since August 2006. Prior to joining the Smithsonian, she worked as a writer and editor for the National Geographic Society, Plexus Scientific, The Nature Conservancy, The National Foreign Language Center and St. Martin’s Press, among others. She has the best job in the world.