Bloodsicles In Zoos: Lions And Tigers Cool Down With Frozen, Bloody Leftovers

Bloodsicles
Zoos around the country have started offering "bloodsicles" to carnivorous animals to ensure that they stay cool under oppressive heat conditions. Smithsonian National Zoo

While temperatures hit upwards of 100 degrees this week, pet owners are advised to keep their four-legged friends well-hydrated and out of the heat. Zoos around the country have even started distributing frozen blood-filled treats, known as bloodsicles, to their animals.

Zoo employees like Theresa Donarski from the Racine Zoo in Wisconsin have started freezing leftover remains of an animal's meals, and then serving them as a way to keep the animal cool. Other methods include cooling mist stations, open access to either indoor or outdoor areas within their enclosure, and fruitsicles for non-meat eating species, Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reported.

"It's not the heat that these animals are not used to but the humidity" said Donarski. "Even the meerkats from Africa can't handle the heat, so all the animals are getting attention and being kept cool."

Although lions, tigers, and other carnivores are being offered the frozen bloody treats, lions and other big cats face a harder time dealing with the heat since they tend to avoid getting any part of their body wet, much like their domesticated cousins. Tigers, on the other hand, have no problem taking a nice refreshing dip.

"Tigers are pretty much the only big cats that enjoy water," said Jill Revelle from Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. "During the summer, we encourage them further by throwing toys, bones and food into the water for them to dive in after."

Carmen Murach, curator of animals for the NEW Zoo in Green Bay, Wis., did recognize that certain species of animals require more attention when temperatures begin to drop, depending on their accustomed environment.

"The zookeepers are running back and forth more than usual," Murach told the Post-Crescent. "The animals who we worry the most about probably are the snow leopard and the red pandas because they are particularly heat sensitive."

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