Wild animals at Oakland Zoo, Lindsay Wildlife try to keep cool during heat wave

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KGO) -- This week's heat wave isn't affecting just humans, but also animals. It's forced many baby animals and birds out of their nests prematurely and prompted zookeepers to think outside the box when it comes to keeping their animals cool.

On a normal day, 30 animals might go to the Lindsay Wildlife Rehabilitation Hospital in Walnut Creek during the peak summer season. But on a hot day they can get as many as 50 even 70.

A 1-week-old old barn owl is struggling to survive. Experts at the hospital say it was stressed out by the heat in its nest. So to cool off, it bailed out of its nest too early. Birds especially fledge their nests far too soon to survive when it's hot, making them vulnerable to predators.

Heat waves send hundreds of baby animals and birds into this rehabilitation hospital. Many of them get in trouble as they desperately look for water in dangerous places like backyard pools.

"We have a couple of patients in this room right now that ended up in pools from trying to get cooler," said wildlife rehabilitation manager Amber Engle. "We'll get a lot of bats and opossums that come in that way."

Some get trapped in the pools and drown. Others inhale water and get pneumonia.

When it comes to elephants, it's a matter of leading them to water to cool off.

VIDEO: These elephants love getting sprayed by fire hoses
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How does an elephant at the Oakland Zoo beat the heat? With a little help from the local firefighters!

"Just like us they've acclimated to more mild temperatures," said Oakland Zoo Animal Care Director Colleen Kinzley. "So when it comes to these hot spells that we get, we do provide them with the pool."

And on Thursday, the Oakland Zoo experimented for the first time with firefighters shooting out 125 gallons a minute at the elephants with fire hoses. Did they like it? They loved it.

And at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum, a squirrel delighted in some frozen watermelon while a possum enjoyed a block of ice and a rescued great gray owl chomped on some shaved ice.
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