Summer comeback - Animals and visitors enjoy late summer sunshine at Hellabrunn Zoo
One last heat wave before the summer comes to a close. While visitors enjoy a walk through Hellabrunn Zoo in the warm sunshine, the lions, Siberian tigers, chimpanzees and wood bison get special ice-cool refreshment.
At first, the two Hellabrunn lions Max and Benny were hesitant about venturing into the cool water. Although there were two delicious watermelons floating on the water, neither of the two big cats could believe their eyes. When their attempts to bring the melons on land using their paw failed, Benny eventually plucked up the courage and sprang into the water with one large leap. He fought playfully with the fruit before breaking it open with one powerful bite. Back on land, Benny first shook his mane dry, until Max, the more water-shy of the two, urged Benny to continue playing ashore.
The Siberian tigers Ahimsa and Jegor and the chimpanzee group were also delighted to have some relief from the late summer heat in the form of ice bombes – frozen ice blocks filled with either fruit, meat and fish – prepared by the keeper. While Ahimsa and Jegor approached their summer refreshment quite relaxed and quickly withdrew with the ice treat to a shaded area, the chimpanzees were initially suspicious of the icy surprise they discovered in their outer enclosure. Three of the four ice bombes were quickly brought to safety; the other rolled downhill and was for a time forgotten. Eventually, one of the primates ventured off to find last ice bombe on the edge of the enclosure and seized the opportunity to enjoy the frozen fruit all by himself.
Each species behaves differently in the hot, late-summer heat: Many slow their pace and lounge in the shade. The big cats for example, such as the lions and Siberian tigers, tend to be active mainly in the cooler morning hours and snooze in the shade during the afternoon. Others, such as the elephants, throw with sand and clay over their bodies and use this as natural sunscreen. The wood bison at the zoo, on the other hand, enjoy being sprayed with the water hose by the keeper, while the rhinos like to take a dip, submerged under water up to their nose.
Animals from tropical and subtropical regions generally have no problems with the rising temperatures. They shift their active phases during the morning and evening and retreat to a shady spot, but also like to take a long sunbath.
For the animals that do not like the heat, the zoo offers plenty of areas for retreat. "Even the animals from temperate and polar regions have to deal with high temperatures in their habitat in summer and have therefore developed appropriate strategies for it," explains Hellabrunn Zoo biologist Carsten Zehrer. The enclosures in the Polar World are generally kept at a cool temperature throughout the summer. The enclosure for the king, gentoo and rockhopper penguins, for example, is constantly kept cold at just above zero degrees. The polar bears have many places to find shade in their large enclosure and can enjoy a refreshing dip in 12 degrees cold water, which is fed from groundwater springs. And particularly after such a cool treat, they are often seen enjoying a long sunbath."