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Animals affected by the heatwave
By Wang Zhuoqiong in Beijing and Luo Man in Shanghai (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-07-07 06:08

Delicious iced food, 24-hour air conditioning and a 10-square-metre swimming pool are taking the heat out of the capital's heatwave if you happen to be a polar bear living in Beijing Zoo that is!

As the temperature rose above 38 C yesterday, three polar bears, the animals tipped to be worst hit by the heat, seemed decidedly more comfortable than humans sapping in the sun.

The bears have been keeping their cool by licking their lunch which comes frozen inside large ice cubes.

Keeper Xiao Ruihong said staff have been putting their charges beef, fish and fruit inside 10-kilogram blocks of ice each morning.

"It will cool them down and stimulate their appetites," explained Xiao. "They eat more than 10 such ice food cubes before noon."

The polar bears also take turns in the air-conditioned room, where the temperature is fixed at 26 C.

Unlike the polar bears, with their very own king-sized swimming pool, their neighbours, the brown bears and wolves, have to share one.

And it came as something of a surprise to see these fierce beasts chilling in their pool, said Xiao. It seems the heat has taken the heat out of any hot-tempered feelings they might have for one another.

As for zoo's larger residents such as elephants, who have neither air conditioning nor swimming pool, relief comes in the form of extra showers.

Currently the six elephants each take five showers and drink 100 litres of water a day, twice as much as they would during spring.

Zhuang Zhuang, a 9-year-old African elephant, spends most of his time under the shade of a tree or a shelter in his pen, continually waving his trunk in search of the scent of water.

"Every time I spray water on his body, he is so happy that his trunk follows wherever the water goes and then he plasters himself with mud to keep cool, " said his keeper Liu Tao. Other animals, particularly the big cats, have been noticeably laconic, avoiding it seems any unnecessary exertions.

Relief for Shanghai

Ponchos and umbrellas were the order of the day yesterday, as the first heavy rain in weeks gave Shanghai a much-needed reprieve from scorching temperatures.

People breathed a sigh of relief as the 39 C high of Tuesday gave way to a comfortable 26 C yesterday.

Power output hit a record 16.64 million kilowatts shortly after noon on Tuesday. The grid has a capacity of 17 million kilowatts.

(China Daily 07/07/2005 page2)

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