Have you ever been curious as to how animals in the wild stay cool, even during the hottest parts of the year? AC and iced coffee might do the trick for us, but our animal friends don’t have it so easy. While we keep the animals in our park safe and sound all year long, their wild counterparts aren’t so lucky.
Animals have had to get used to taking on the heat and sometimes they do it in pretty interesting ways. Let’s look at some of the ways animals in the wild beat the heat.
When one thinks of an animal that is resilient to the heat and built for the high temperatures of summer, the camel often comes to mind. They live and survive in arid climates, and they do so with fewer resources than most animals are used to. While many think their ability to live in the dry heat comes from storing water in their humps, this isn’t the case. A camel’s humps store fatty tissues which help them survive when there’s little food. And their body has adapted to only store fat in the humps, not all over their body. This makes it easier to regulate their body temperature. Lastly, camels have blood cells that let them retain water and stave dehydration far more efficiently. Watch this video to learn more about camels and how they’ve adapted to live in hard environments.
There’s no doubt about it, the ostrich is an interesting-looking animal. They have long legs, long necks, and fuzzy feathers distributed mostly on their wings and torsos. While they may seem a bit odd at first glance, their unique appearance actually serves a purpose. Parts of their body are not covered by feathers at all, like the area under their wings and thighs. When it’s hot, they can lift their wings and allow air to reach their exposed skin, cooling them off far more efficiently than if they were covered in feathers. This allows their featherless sides to breathe and increases air circulation over their entire body.
The tortoise is a naturally cold-blooded animal, so they naturally live in warmer climates. Tortoises will bask in the sun to warm up, staying exposed until their body temperature has reached the right level. This doesn’t mean, however, that they are completely immune to the heat. When a tortoise has had enough sun, they instinctively go for the shade, just like we do! You may also find them in areas of high vegetation or even burrowed in the ground. This lets them cool off and provides shelter from direct sunlight.
Elk live in woodlands all across North American, including parts of Canada. Because they live in wooded areas, they often experience a full range of weather, from harsh winters to hot summers. These large animals may seem more suited to cope with the cold, but they have adapted to deal with the heat and humidity that come during the summer months. They also spend long hours happing in the shade, moving more in twilight hours when the sun is less direct. Whenever possible, they will take advantage of bodies of water and heavy vegetation
As you can see, coping with the heat of summer has led to some pretty interesting adaptations. So while animals can’t just turn on the AC, they’ve certainly figured out a lot of interesting ways to deal with the heat. Of course, you can always take a drive through our park to see many animals in person, but feel free to crank up the AC on your way through.
Sources: //southafrica.co.za/how-do-ostriches-adapt-to-the-heat.html#:~:text=Ostriches%20use%20their%20wings%20as,wings%20to%20shade%20their%20chicks. | //www.rmef.org/elk-facts/ (also in line links)