Oklahoma City Zoo officials closely watch the varying and sometimes wild Oklahoma weather

“We provide them with lots of opportunities of water, ice treats and misting systems or going inside so that they can choose the best option for the day,” said Jennifer D'Agostino, director of veterinarian services at the Oklahoma City Zoo.
by Bryan Painter Modified: August 24, 2013 at 10:00 pm •  Published: August 23, 2013

Dhirin eased around the tree, across the log and descended the hill into the cave.

There the 90-pound snow leopard with a sleek coat paused and lapped from a pool of water.

Nearby Kelele, a western lowland gorilla, sat in the shade up on a hill while holding her 6-month old son, Leom. And just a little ways away, Niki, an Indian rhinoceros, stepped down into a mud wallow.

All around the Oklahoma City Zoo, animals were keeping cool, but moving about on a recent day where the maximum temperature was 93 degrees, matching the normal high in the metro area for that day.

This comes after normal was not the norm in the past two summers.

“The animals are a lot more active when it's nicer out,” said Jennifer D'Agostino, director of veterinarian services at the zoo. “I think this year the animals have certainly enjoyed the nicer weather.

“We provide them with lots of opportunities of water, ice treats and misting systems or going inside so that they can choose the best option for the day.”

Although the animals come from around the globe and different climates, many have been choosing to go outside this summer, as opposed to the two recent summers, D'Agostino said.

In 2011, Oklahoma City had 61 days of triple-digit temperatures. The previous record for the city was 50 days in 1980. Last year, the temperature in Oklahoma City reached or topped 110 degrees on the first three days of August, including a record-tying 113 on Aug. 3, matching the mark of Aug. 11, 1936.

This summer, there were 11 days in July in which Oklahoma City's high temperature was below 90. That included 78 degrees on July 15. And from Aug. 13-19, the highs were all in the 80s.

Regardless of the somewhat gentler summer, zoo officials continue to closely monitor Oklahoma's weather forecast.

“Really the weather can change drastically day-to-day or within the same day,” said D'Agostino, who has worked at the zoo for 10 years. “We have had times where the temperature shifted 30 degrees in one day. So we're always prepared for that and we have a lot of accommodations where we can be very flexible with the animals. That way, they can have access inside to a building.”

And there are many ways to keep them cool while they are outside.

One involves simple instructions: Just add ice.

Frozen treats

Frozen treats are among the cooling processes used in the summer.

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by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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