Keeping Cool in the Summer: Animal EditionJuly 2, 2019
Virginia summers can get pretty hot. Luckily for the animals at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, they have natural adaptations and a little bit of trainer assistance to help keep cool during the summer months!
At Wolf Haven, the wolves and red foxes are beginning to shed their winter coats. For the wolves, those winter coats add the appearance of 20-30lbs! As they shed in the summertime you can finally see their long, lean body styles. The foxes are also deceptively fluffy in the winter. Despite being canines, they have narrow, cat-like bodies which you can see during the summer months. In addition to shedding out their thick, winter coats, the mammals will stick to shady areas when the sun is bright and temperatures are high. Don’t see the wolves when you get to Wolf Valley? Try looking on the shady hillsides. Wolves are crepuscular, which means that they are most active at dawn and dusk. Mid-day they usually prefer to take a nap in the shade where it’s cool. See how our wolves and foxes adapt at Howl to Coexist!
Even though the animals have a lot of great adaptations for the heat, we try to help them out in any way we can. Our show stage and all of their habitats behind-the-scenes have fans. The wolves also have large water tubs in their habitats big enough for them to lie down in. The foxes, barn owl, Harris’s hawk, and black vulture often get pools as part of their enrichment as well. We set up hoses and sprinklers for the wolves to run through when they wish. Kitchi, in particular, loves to run through the hose and then stand directly under a fan to cool off!
Did you know wolves are fantastic swimmers? If you have been to Wolf Valley, you have seen our large waterfall and pools. The wolves love to jump in the pools on a hot day.
One of our favorite ways to help the animals cool off is to give them ice treats! We fill ice cube trays with their favorite treats—including small pieces of fruits, yogurt, hotdog, and fish—and add water before freezing them. We even make extra-large ice treats in pie pans. Not only does the cold ice help to keep the animals cool, but the act of chewing and breaking up the ice is enriching for the predators as well.
At Wolf Haven, we do have one animal that loves the heat: Diane, the Harris’s hawk. Harris’s hawks are native to the desert, so the hot Virginia summers are Diane’s kind of weather. When the other animals are taking naps in the shade, Diane is basking in the sun. Diane’s favorite pastime is sunning herself and then jumping into a cool tub of water for a bath.
The trainers at Busch Gardens are passionate about taking the best care of the animals that we can. Summertime is a great opportunity for us to provide enrichment that not only keeps the animals safe and cool but can also be lots of fun. We hope you will join us at Wolf Haven this season to get in on the action!