HATTIESBURG, MS - (WDAM) Everyone's trying to find ways to keep cool in triple digit temperatures and high humidity, including wild animals. Especially the ones from other parts of the world. Although she may be from Asia, Tigger the tiger isn't naturally accustomed the high humidity that's common in her enclosure at the Hattiesburg Zoo.
Tigger's home comes with amenities like shaded areas, and a pool for cooling off, but zoo keepers go the extra mile by treating her to a delicious bloodsicle to help beat the summer heat.
Katie Barry is one of the zoo keepers, and explains that their job is to keep the animals comfortable, no matter what part of the world they're from. She said, "Since they aren't used to the hot weather, we have different things set up, we have sprinklers, or misters, set up on the sides of their exhibit, so they have access to water, and they can walk through it if they get hot."
Keepers offer showers for the birds and turtles, misters for the reptiles, and frozen fruit treats for eager monkeys. It may sound like a day at the beach, but it's vital to the animals.
Barry said, "We have to worry, just like humans, with heat stroke, sun stroke, where you have to be careful and watch them. We monitor to see, do they have enough access to shade, are they panting too much, are they acting abnormal, are they vomiting, different things that you would look for in kids or older adults."
The zoo also cares about its patrons, providing cooling stations, and a splash pad for the kiddos. But when it comes down to it, their main focus is on the animals. Barry said, Just being out here with the animals, training them, working with them, seeing their response to us, just knowing that we have a bond with them, I just love taking care of them."