ASHEBORO, NC - On these summer days when temperatures reach into the 90s-and sometimes even into three-digits-humans can usually learn a little about keeping cool from animals. But sometimes the animals need help as well.

At the North Carolina Zoo, keepers help the animals through a variety of cooling techniques from putting ice into the exhibits for the animals to wallow in, to air-conditioned holding areas to ponds and shade within the exhibits.

Other means involve giving the animals cool treats such as frozen buckets of water containing the animal's favorite food or misters in their off-exhibit holding areas.

On particularly hot days, the doors to the animals' holding areas (often air-conditioned) are left open so that the animals have the option to go back inside the cooler areas if temperatures get unpleasantly high.

But the zoo staff is equally concerned about the comfort of guests. Especially on days in which temperatures are expected to rise into the three-digit range, visitors are encouraged to wear light-weight clothing and comfortable walking shoes. Additionally, visitors should pace themselves, make frequent rest stops and drink plenty of liquids to keep hydrated. Water fountains are located throughout the park, and visitors can purchase bottled drinks and ice cream.

Not only are the early morning hours (immediately after the 9 a.m. opening) usually the coolest part of the day, but also it's the time of day when the animals are most active.

Zoo hours are 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.; regular admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors (62+) and $8 for children (ages 2-12).

The zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment & Natural Resources, Dee Freeman, Secretary; Beverly Eaves Perdue, Governor.