KNOXVILLE, Tenn — When it comes to keeping yourself cool as the heat index in East Tennessee hits triple digits, we can learn a lot by watching the animals at Zoo Knoxville.
Animals are experts when it comes to adapting to the world around them, and that includes when it starts to get really hot outside.
"Clearly African animals do well in the heat, and many of our native species as well. Reptiles of course thrive in the heat," said Tina Rolen, Director of Marketing and Communications for Zoo Knoxville.
Humans don't necessarily thrive when temperatures rise to what they've been recently in East Tennessee, so we went to the zoo to learn from the animals.
"We learned from the animals to find a shady spot and take it easy during the heat of the day as well," said Rolen.
We start our lessons with the otters.
"Be like the otters," said Rolen "Swim. Swim with abandon."
The otters are of course popular friends at the zoo, plus their viewing area is shaded, meaning it's a nice place to keep cool before you take inspiration from them and decide you need to jump in some water of your own.
At Zoo Knoxville, that would be the splash pad.
"Go swimming. Hit the splash pad, hit the watering hole. There're so many different ways to experience the zoo," said Rolen.
The splash pad is a great place to cool down, or visitors can walk under the misters throughout the park.\ Many are located right by the elephants, our next teachers.
"Our elephants love to cool off, they like to get into pools and swim," said Rolen "Every Thursday we do elephant pool parties, so we'll bring the water hoses out and hose them off."
Kids and adults can be part of that fun, too.
"Our guests actually get to participate sometimes by holding the hose and helping spray the elephants down, to cool them off," said Rolen.
Getting some air and some speed can keep you cool. Fly like an eagle on the brand new soaring eagle zipline experience.
"You can come off the side of our ravine about 30 miles an hour," said Rolen "It's certainly a way to catch a breeze and cool off and have a really great time and a little adventure while you're here."
You and a friend strap into a seat, are pulled up backward and released to fly down the ravine just like an eagle. It's not a free fall, but it's just as thrilling.
Next up, head inside the ARC campus to hang out with and learn from Joe the Sloth. He is an expert on staying indoors, in the shade, and out of the sun.
Then, maybe come back to the zoo at a time that's not so hot.
"Come early in the morning when it's a little cooler, the animals are a little more active, or come in the evenings," said Rolen. "Every Thursday evening, we do an after-hours event, so you can enjoy the zoo at twilight when it's not as hot."
So as we learn from our friends, take a dip like an otter, find some shade like a sloth, stay hydrated like an elephant and catch the wind like an eagle.