RIO DE JANEIRO - Rio de Janeiro's brutal summer heat has reached 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) on some recent days, sending locals to cool off in the ocean. There weren't many options for residents of the city's zoo, however, until a team of experts started offering them exotic frozen treats.
The flavors of ice given to the zoo's carnivores aren't found at your average summer hotspot: Chicken, minced meat and bovine blood. But 14-year-old lion Simba and the 3-year-old black jaguar Poty lap it up.
"This is a part of our well-being program. We have lots of activities to include something different in their routine," said Marina Moraes, a biologist at the zoo.
An otter observes ice popsicles at the Rio de Janeiro Zoo in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on January 27, 2023. (Photo by MAURO PIMENTEL/AFP via Getty Images)
The ice brings cooling relief to the animals, which take their time eating it, and the feeding ritual is a novel sight for visitors. That was the case for an Argentine family that came to the zoo for the first time.
"It's fantastic because there's this terrible heat and above all it's very humid. We sweat even though there's no sun; it's different from Argentina," said lawyer Lorena López, who was with her husband and children. "I think it’s perfect for the animals to have their ice."
A lion walks next to ice popsicles at the Rio de Janeiro Zoo in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on January 27, 2023. (Photo by MAURO PIMENTEL/AFP via Getty Images)
Many of the children seemed fascinated by the activity, and they expressed surprise when they found out the ingredients of the different flavors, which vary according to the species.
"For the primates, we offer fruit ice creams, which are sweet and more colorful," Moraes said. "The herbivores can taste kale, pumpkin and carrot."