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Fish popsicles, elephant hose-downs and ice blocks galore: How zoo animals keep cool

An elephant at the Cincinnati Zoo got a nice spray of water to keep cool. Photo Credit: Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

(CNN) — Who’d have thought a Nile hippo would need to chow down on frozen watermelons?

An extra hot day is usually countered by sipping a cool glass of lemonade to beat the heat. But for zoos across the country, it means keeping their animals cool with ice blocks of bones, meat, and fruit.

As temperatures rose from the East Coast to the West Coast, zoos have had to get creative in keeping their animals safe under extreme conditions. Elephant showers, wolf pool parties, and frozen watermelons have been just a few of the ideas zookeepers came up with.

The Brookfield Zoo is combating this recent heatwave by providing chilly treats to their animals. The zoo’s animal care staff offered blocks of ice with fruits and vegetables, as well as a few filled with meat and bones to different species in residence.

The Maryland Zoo is also using ice treats to combat the heatwave.

“Many of the ice blocks include sports drink-style powders (similar to Gatorade), to help replenish electrolytes,” said officials from the Maryland Zoo. “For bears, the blocks might include fish and fruit, and might have lard layered in between. For river otters, they sometimes include fish and vegetables.”

Tortoises at the Cincinnati Zoo are up to their necks in mud to fend off the heat, and even the NYPD is taking extra steps to make sure their animals are protected from the dangers of rising temperatures. The four-legged members of the NYPD Mounted Unit are staying indoors and their two-legged partners are spraying them down with water to keep cool.

If icy snacks aren’t enough to keep heat stroke at bay, many zoo animals also are given the option to hide from the heat indoors.