BILLINGS - Zoo keepers at ZooMontana have more on their hands lately with trying to protect animals from extreme heat temperatures.

“It is so hot out here and our animals are actually handling it pretty well, and I would say that's a big part due to our hard zoo keeping work, of course,” Allyson Dredla, lead wetlands keeper at ZooMontana, said. “We spend most of our days trying to keep these animals cool. We have a lot of tricks under our sleeve, so to say.”

Some of those tricks include filling up pools with cold water for the wetland animals and giving them frozen treats and snacks, like carrots and bell peppers.

“Sometimes, on really hot days, we will actually give our animals access to what's called a night house or indoor area,” Dredla said. “They are an off exhibit from the public, as kind of a safe space for them at night time or during a storm, but also great to utilize these night house as a cooling area during the day too.”

Because of the heat, the zoo has to start closing earlier so animals can get out of the sun. But that doesn’t mean you can’t see your favorite critters. 

“But if you do come in the summer, come very first thing. This is a great time to see animals out and playing with their enrichment before they get too tired for the day,” Dedla said.

Still, don't forget to take care of yourself when at the zoo.

“I think it's also important for guests to remember, even though they are having fun and their kids are running around at the zoo, to also to keep cool and drink plenty of water, fluids and take breaks if you need to. If it's honestly too hot, just stay home and stay safe,” Dredla said.

The zoo will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. due to the outdoor temperatures.

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