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Splish, splash! Zoo animals that beat the heat
Splish, splash! Zoo animals that beat the heat

We all love summer in the Pacific Northwest, but there’s no doubt that some days get pretty hot. Humans are pretty creative in finding ways to beat the heat – splashing, shade, cool clothes – and our Zoo animals do it too!

Asian elephants

hanako elephant trunk splash

Hanako and Suki might be elderly elephants, but they love a good bath, whether it’s splashing in their deep pool or scooping up trunkfuls of mud to slap on their backs.

Sometimes our keepers will help them out with a jetting hose of water!

And afterwards? They’ll coat their thick hide with dust, which works like talcum powder on humans to soothe the skin. Perfect for a hot day!

FIND THEM: Find our elephants in the Asian Forest Sanctuary.


Sumatran tigers

tiger waterfall DumaiOur four tigers, of course, are native to a country where it’s regularly much hotter than the Northwest: Indonesia. But they still enjoy a good cool-down by taking a swim (tigers are great swimmers), napping in the shade or slurping up icy enrichments made by keepers.

FIND THEM: Find our tigers in the Asian Forest Sanctuary.


Small-clawed otter

Asian small-clawed otters are water-creatures: they live in swamps, marshes and wetlands in the wild. Here at the Zoo our otter Bubbles always has a pool to dive into – or even a waterfall.

FIND THEM: Find our otters in the Asian Forest Sanctuary.


Budgerigars are native to Australia, where it gets really hot! But they do take a break in the middle of the day, finding a shady perch while the exhibit is closed for lunch. They have plenty of leafy branches, and an indoor room as well.

FIND THEM: Find our Budgie Buddies near the camels.


Polar bears

Our senior polar bears Boris and Blizzard like a good nap when it gets warm – especially under the shade cloth our staff puts up for them every summer. They also enjoy ice enrichments made by keepers, and of course their fabulous big pool (fed with cool Puget Sound water) to swim in!

FIND THEM: Find our polar bears in the Arctic Tundra habitat.



Charlotte and Hudson muskox
Charlotte (left) and Hudson shed their winter coats.

Our muskox Charlotte, Hudson and Mya may look shaggy, but right now they’ve actually got their cool summer coats. In winter, they’ll grow thick underwool, called qiviut (“kiv-ee-ute”).

FIND THEM: Find our muskoxen in the Arctic Tundra habitat.


Arctic fox

You can spot an Arctic fox’s summer coat – it’s brown, not white, to better blend in against the snow-free tundra. Find Maggie our fox near the polar bears.

FIND THEM: Find our Arctic fox in the Arctic Tundra habitat.


Seals, sea lions, sea otters and walruses

sea otters on ice
Two sea otters play with ice.

Enough said – these marine mammals have it made with big swimming pools. But Kulu the walrus also likes to play in the waterfall our keepers make with a hose, and our sea otters love playing with ice!

FIND THEM: Find all these animals at Rocky Shores.


Some like it hot…

Of course, some of our animals like it hot. Camels are perfectly adapted for the desert, drinking up to 26 gallons of water in just ten minutes, while lemurs, meerkats and many of our Wild Wonders Outdoor Theater animals are also native to hot climates.
And reptiles, being cold-blooded, need the sun’s warmth to regulate their body temperature: Keep a watch for our tegu or iguanas sunning themselves at a Close Encounter!


7 Tips for a Cool Zoo Dayiguana Zoo to You

  1. Arrive early. It’s cooler, less crowded and animals are more active. Buy online tickets and skip the line.
  2. Bring a lunch and enjoy our shaded picnic pavilion, or grab an ice-cream from the café.
  3. Catch the 12:30pm Wild Wonders Outdoor Theater show for some more shade.
  4. Cool off inside our two amazing aquariums.
  5. Feel the cool breeze at Rocky Shores – you might even get splashed by a sea lion!
  6. Splash around yourself at our Kids’ Zone sprayground.
  7. After your zoo visit, head down to explore the Point Defiance waterfront and cool off at Owen Beach – the perfect end to a summer’s day.