Atlanta Zoo closing early due to extreme heat: How the animals are staying safe

ATLANTA — Extreme heat is forcing the Atlanta Zoo to close its gates early on Wednesday and Thursday.

The heat index -- what temperature it feels like -- is forecast to skyrocket Wednesday to 100 degrees in Atlanta.

Some animals who call the Atlanta Zoo home may be brought inside earlier in the day than usual because of the high temperatures, said Rachel Davis, the zoo's director of communications. Animals also have access to shade or water features like water-mist fans, she said.

"The Animal Care Teams carefully monitor and check in on all animal habitats at multiple times throughout the day," Davis told ABC News via email. Some "are native to tropical environments in Africa or southeast Asia. Others, like giant pandas, which are native to cool, high-altitude forests in China, would already, just by virtue of the season, be spending time in their indoor dayroom habitats, which are kept in the 60s Fahrenheit year-round."

Some zoo residents even get to indulge in frozen treats!

"These vary among species and their diets -- for example, for gorillas it might be frozen fruit juice," Davis said.

The zoo said its last entry time for Wednesday and Thursday will be 12:30 to 1 p.m, with normal hours expected to resume Friday.

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