Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

Treats keep animals ice and cool

Paulinho the chimpanzee enjoys a fruity ice pop (AP)
Paulinho the chimpanzee enjoys a fruity ice pop (AP)

As Brazil swelters in a heatwave, animals at Rio de Janeiro zoo have been cooling off with ice pops.

Keepers provided the animals with homemade treats in various flavours. For the big cats, there were 30kg blocks of ice and raw meat.

Ze Comeia, a brown bear rescued from a circus, was treated to buckets of iced fruit while Karla the elephant munched on a supply of chilled bananas.

But it was the strawberry and mango-flavoured frozen yoghurt pops on sticks given to the zoo's apes that looked the most appealing to the crowds of human visitors .

"When I saw them eating their ice creams, I asked my parents to get me one too," said Damaris Pereira Dias, 11. "It made me really hungry to watch them."

One chimpanzee named Paulinho reached long fingers through the bars of his cage to snatch a strawberry-flavoured treat before delicately handing the stick back for another.

Zookeepers have been handing out almost 100 frozen snacks a day during the heatwave, which has seen temperatures top 120F.

The apes alone consume around 70 frozen treats per day, according to Karla Cunha, the zoo's dietitian.

"This is their favourite time of day," she said.

"In addition to cooling the animals down on days like this where the heat is downright unbearable, it's also fun and keeps them active."

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