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Phoenix Zoos, Animal Shelters To Keep Close Eye On Animals During Heat

Local zoos and animal shelters say they’ll be keeping a close eye on animal welfare this week as the heat wave sets in. Some have shifted hours or decided to close altogether.

Officials at the Phoenix Zoo say extreme temperatures are nothing new to their keepers and staff. Right now the plan is to shut their doors to visitors in the early afternoon in keeping with their typical summer schedule.

Linda Hardwick, a zoo spokeswoman, said the keepers will be keeping a close eye on the animals for signs of lethargy. They’ve also installed several measures to help them cool off.    

"The javelinas have mud wallows. Our southern white rhinoceros also has a mud wallow and a pool that she enjoys," Hardwick explained. "We will also do some showering of our great horned owls, several of our birds like emus."

Officials at the Arizona Animal Welfare League, however, say they’ll be shutting down adoption operations on Tuesday.

"It was only one time in our history that we had to close and it was last summer," said Michael Morefield, an organization spokesman.  "We made the call because just like we’re going to deal with tomorrow, the temperatures were too extreme that we needed to focus on the health and safety of our animals."

The hottest temperatures in this week’s heatwave are expected on Tuesday. Conditions should gradually cool down by early next week.

Carrie Jung Senior Field Correspondent, Education Desk Carrie Jung began her public radio career in Albuquerque, N.M., where she fell in love with the diverse cultural scene and unique political environment of the Southwest. Jung has been heard on KJZZ since 2013 when she served as a regular contributor to the Fronteras Desk from KUNM Albuquerque. She covered several major stories there including New Mexico's Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage and Albuquerque's failed voter initiative to ban late-term abortions. Jung has also contributed stories about environmental and Native American issues to NPR's Morning Edition, PRI's The World, Al Jazeera America, WNYC's The Takeaway, and National Native News. She earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's in marketing, both from Clemson University. When Jung isn't producing content for KJZZ she can usually be found buried beneath mounds of fabric and quilting supplies. She recently co-authored a book, "Sweet And Simple Sewing," with her mother and sister, who are fabric designers.