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Viewpoint: Beating the heat

The Boise Rescue Mission and Zoo Boise are making sure vulnerable populations are protected during this historic heatwave.

BOISE, Idaho — The Treasure Valley recently tied a heat record for the area, with nine straight days of temperatures at or above 100 degrees. Although the heatwave has already consumed nearly two weeks of the summer, more triple-digit temperatures are in the forecast.

Many residents are beating the heat by simply staying inside and enjoying the air conditioning. However, this is not a luxury everyone can count on.

The recent temperatures are not only uncomfortable; they are unbearable and dangerous for those who do not have air conditioning or a home.

Because of this, organizations across the Treasure Valley are taking steps to ensure everyone has a place to cool down during the hottest time of the year.

In Boise, Interfaith Sanctuary, Corpus Christi House and Boise Rescue Mission homeless shelters have been hosting cooling shelters. These are places where people needing help can hang out, stay cool and get some food and water. They provide a vital oasis from our high desert heat.

The Boise Rescue Mission's River of Life shelter for men and City Light Home for Women and Children have been making sure the homeless have a place to lay their heads at night for decades. When the weather turns nasty, whether that's the cold of winter or the intense heat of summer, a policy kicks in to keep them warm or cool during the day: the doors stay open 24 hours a day, offering a place to cool off and get cold water and food.

On this edition of Viewpoint, Boise Rescue Mission President and CEO Reverend Bill Roscoe discusses how the staff are helping the homeless stay safe and comfortable during the heatwave, how they're grappling with a staffing shortage of 15-20 workers and why he believes the number of men staying at the River of Life men's shelter has decreased over the last year.

ZOO BOISE

Also on this "beating the heat" edition of Viewpoint, we check in with Zoo Boise Director Gene Peacock to see how they're keeping the animals happy and healthy in the scorching temperatures.

Even before the heatwave began, Zoo Boise staff were preparing to protect the animals from it. That task can be a bit tricky considering the animals come from different regions, countries and climates, and they come in all different shapes and sizes. Staff take all of this into consideration in order the keep all the animals safe and comfortable.

Animals can choose to go inside where it's air conditioned, then come back onto their exhibits when ready. He says the zoo also uses fans, sprinklers, misters and ice blocks to keep the animals comfortable. The veterinary staff is also ready to jump in if an animal gets distressed by the heat.

Peacock also discusses the popularity of the now two-year-old Gorongosa Exhibit, its partnership with Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique, Africa and Zoo Boise's overall conservation efforts.

Viewpoint airs Sunday mornings at 6:30 on KTVB.

Starting on August 8 Viewpoint will move to a new time, 9 a.m. on Sundays after Meet the Press.

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