Elephants are forgoing daily baths, but the rest of the Toledo Zoo’s animals are staying hydrated during Toledo’s on-going water crisis thanks to the Jerusalem Township Fire Department, which delivered 5,000 gallons of water on Sunday and 1,250 on Saturday.
“Around the zoo, we have water containers [100 gal. or larger] and we fill them with drinking water for the animals,” said Jeff Sailer, the zoo’s executive director.
In hot temperatures, the zoo’s ark needs a minimum of 1,000 gallons a day for drinking water, he said, adding that pachyderms don't suffer from lack of daily ablutions.
Tap water is being used for cleaning the animal bedrooms, he said.
Mr. Sailer’s biggest concern is that an extended period of tap-water contamination will impair the zoo’s ability to replenish water in its large exhibits for seals and polar bears, hippos, and penguins.
Seals and white bears have salt-water pools filled with 300,000 gallons, and flushing out those pools’ filters requires about 800 gallons.
Water that evaporates or gets splashed out also needs to be replaced.
The zoo had about 2,500 visitors Sunday, some from out of town who did not know of the water problem. Drinking fountains were shut off and food concessions were closed, but bottled drinks and pre-packaged snacks — such as popcorn and cotton candy — were sold.
Catered events, such as weddings and picnics, have not been affected, Mr. Sailer said, and Sunday evening’s Music Under the Stars performance proceeded as scheduled.
"We can handle the basic events without tap water," he said.
Jerusalem Township uses water from Oregon, which draws its water from a Lake Erie intake near Toledo’s, but so far has detected no algal toxin in its treated water.
Jersualem fire Lt. Don Murray said the department’s 1,250-gallon tanker made four zoo runs Sunday.
He said he did not know whether the zoo will be charged for costs such as water, wages, and gasoline.
“Our job right now is to plug the dike,” he said.
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