Zoo Atlanta to close early Wednesday, Thursday due to extreme heat

A popular Atlanta attraction will close early a couple of days this week because of the summer heat.

Zoo Atlanta announced Tuesday it will have limited hours on Wednesday and Thursday. The zoo will stop letting visitors at 1 p.m. and close the grounds at 2:30 p.m.

The zoo says they are shutting down because temperatures and heat indices are predicted to be in the triple digits.

Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Brad Nitz says we could see the hottest temperatures in nearly three years. Our all-time record though won’t likely be broken..

Officials are encouraging visitors to take advantage of the morning hours at the zoo.

Last week, Zoo Atlanta workers showed Channel 2 Action News the precautions they are using to keep animals healthy and happy.

“We do more frequent checks. Checking them for heat exhaustion and a lot of those are similar,” Jennifer Mickelberg said.

Some species require special care

“Giant pandas for example have very different temperature guidelines than our African savannah elephants,” Mickelberg said. “They are from a northern climate with a bamboo forest where it’s much cooler. So their building actually where they live stays about 60 degrees all year round.”

Other animals like the gorillas and orangutans get extra hot weather treats. They enjoy popsicles to stay cool.

“Tt’s made out of fruit juice and may have seeds, oats and other food in it,” Mickelberg said. “So we throw them through the course of the day just to help them cool off.”

Along with cold treats, all of the habitats have easy access to water for both hydration and for fun.

“We also do some hose playtime so they get to play in water or sprinklers a lot of things you would do with people we do the same thing with animals.”

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