Heatwave 2022: Mud wallows and fruity ice pops - how the London Zoo animals stay cool

As the mercury soars today, the city’s zoo animals have discovered some innovative ways to stay cool.
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Whether you’re sweltering on the central line or enjoying a refreshing outdoor swim, spare a thought for London’s furry friends, as the capital battles a boiling 40C heatwave.

As the mercury soars today, the city’s zoo animals have discovered some innovative ways to stay cool.

Western lowland gorilla Gernot enjoys an ice lolly during the heatwave in London. Photo: ZSL London ZooWestern lowland gorilla Gernot enjoys an ice lolly during the heatwave in London. Photo: ZSL London Zoo
Western lowland gorilla Gernot enjoys an ice lolly during the heatwave in London. Photo: ZSL London Zoo

London Zoo zookeeper Rob Harland told LondonWorld: “When the UK experiences a heatwave, it’s not just people who enjoy cooling down – at London Zoo zookeepers work to ensure every animal is cool and comfortable too.

“When the temperatures rise, zookeepers make sure that every animal has plenty of water and cooling treats.

“They can choose to spend their time in their cool indoor dens, or under the cool shade of the trees in their outdoor paddock, or they can choose to sunbathe if they prefer.”

During the heatwave, keepers are providing icy treats and cooling showers, while some animals even have their own natural adaptations to help them cope in hot temperatures.

Western lowland gorilla Mjukuu enjoying an ice lolly during the heatwave. Photo: ZSL London ZooWestern lowland gorilla Mjukuu enjoying an ice lolly during the heatwave. Photo: ZSL London Zoo
Western lowland gorilla Mjukuu enjoying an ice lolly during the heatwave. Photo: ZSL London Zoo

“The Humboldt penguins on Penguin Beach have the largest penguin pool in the UK to swim in - and are actually used to warm weather, coming from the coasts of Chile and Peru,” Rob added.

“While the otters have their own river, with shady riverbanks and a plunge pool to enjoy.

“Other animals are particularly adapted to the warm weather.

“The meerkats even have their own sunglasses - black circles around their eyes which absorb the sun’s glare - and pygmy hippos naturally ‘sweat’ their own sunscreen.”

Western lowland gorilla Gernot enjoys ice lollies during the heatwave. Photo: ZSL London ZooWestern lowland gorilla Gernot enjoys ice lollies during the heatwave. Photo: ZSL London Zoo
Western lowland gorilla Gernot enjoys ice lollies during the heatwave. Photo: ZSL London Zoo

Lions and hippos can also enjoy a dip at the zoo.

Rob said “Animals such as the Asiatic lions and Pygmy hippos have their own moats to swim in, while the Kune Kune pigs have their own mud wallow. Other animals might get a cooling shower from their zookeeper.

“Some are given healthy ice pops to enjoy made of frozen sugar free iced tea, filled with nuts and seeds.

“Primates such as the gorillas and squirrel monkeys love an ice lolly, just like us.”

How are you and your pets coping in the heat? Share your heatwave photos with us on Twitter by tagging @LondonWorldCom or email [email protected].

The ZSL London Zoo is open but some exhibits or talks may be closed or cancelled. For more information, visit https://www.zsl.org/zsl-london-zoo.