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From polar bears to pets, here's how animals are keeping cool during Calgary's heat wave

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As the sun continues to beat down on Calgary, the pair of polar bears at the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo are more than happy to splash around. 

Staff have been busy making sure water features, cold treats and cooling stations are available to all of the animals on the property during the ongoing heat wave. 

"Calgary has very similar temperatures to what polar bears will experience in the wild," said Patrick Thompson, the zoo's manger of animal care. 

The polar bears, named Baffin and Siku, are just as comfortable with temperatures hovering around 30 C as they are when it dips to -40 C, he said. 

"When we think about polar bears, we think about them being out on the ice and being cold, but they have to live and exist during the spring summer and fall too, right?" he added. 

Humboldt penguins are basking on the rocks and being fed frozen 'fishsicles,' while other animals are kept in temperature-controlled environments indoors. 

"The Animal Care team is going to be watching them really closely looking for signs of heat stress," Thompson said.

Penguins at the Calgary Zoo on Tuesday, July 9, 2024.Outside of the zoo, many Calgarians are opting to take their pets for walks and swims along the river. 

"We usually come here all the time just to like cool down," said Tessa Mills, who took her dog, Toast to the water on Tuesday morning.

"We let him swim, get him tired, because then he gets to sit inside."

Toast the dog takes a swim to cool down in Calgary on Tuesday, July 9, 2024.Those measures are recommended when Calgary experiences a heat wave, says one local veterinarian.

Westmount Animal Clinic staff typically see more visits from pets and their owners when the city sees extreme temperatures, including during the current warm weather. 

"Pets aren't really able to regulate their heat like we can through sweating, so they have to pant, and there's a really a limit to how much that they can kind of tolerate," said Dr. Chanpreet Bath with the clinic. 

People should provide their pets lots of shade and water and not leave them in vehicles alone, Bath said. 

"The temperature really, really gets high. It's almost like it's kind of like an oven in a car, right?" he said.

"That can that can also predispose them to having something like heat stroke hyperthermia," Bath added. 

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