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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

Take the snow leopards for example. D'Agostino said those at the zoo will take a fish, “put it in a container of water and freeze it and make a fishsicle.”

“That way the snow leopards have to lick the ice to get to the fish,” she said. “They'll do that for a lot of the cats.”

When it's hot, fruits and vegetables are frozen in a five-gallon bucket of water for the gorillas and they have to break the ice apart to get the food out. So they are getting cooled off in the process.

Zoo spokeswoman Tara Henson said that even with the less extreme heat, staff members continue to provide such summer treats.

Not just cooler

In areas of Oklahoma, it's still been a hot summer as Altus and Grandfield have each had more than 30 days of triple digits. And in some areas it's still dry. The U.S. Drought Monitor report on Thursday showed 33 percent of the state continuing to battle drought, primarily in the Panhandle and western Oklahoma.

But that's not the case in Oklahoma City. The city remains on a pace to have its wettest year on record, with 45.19 inches recorded through Friday, said Gary McManus of the Oklahoma Climatological Survey.

So it's been cooler, but also wetter than the last couple of summers.

“We do a lot of work with our horticulture staff,” D'Agostino said. “Because with your dog or your cat, you can put the flea and tick medication on them every month, very easily. Well we can't do that with all of our animals for obvious reasons. Some are dangerous animals.

“So we do a lot more exhibit-type maintenance or yard maintenance and we do put some applications down so that our animals are not bothered by the fleas and ticks.”

She said they haven't had problems with either this summer.

“And I'm surprised the mosquitoes aren't worse than what they are but we are we are very diligent at the zoo about preventing standing water,” D'Agostino said.

Watching closely

When snow fell in Oklahoma City on Feb. 12, Dhirin was out walking around. In the wild, snow leopards like Dhirin live in a cold, mountainous environment such as the Himalayas in Asia, D'Agostino said.

But he's been in Oklahoma City for some time and is “fairly well adapted to the warmer climate.”

“Still we make sure there is a constant supply of fresh cool water for them to drink and other options for keeping cool,” D'Agostino said. “We watch the animals and we watch the Oklahoma weather.”

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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