Clovis is sizzling in summer heat

Rodrick Dean, 7, of Clovis, spread out as he dries off on the concrete surrounding the pool at Potter Park Saturday during the Juneteenth Celebration. (CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Mike Linn: CNJ News Editor

A few days ago Dennis Shaw was plowing his dryland wheat field near Ranchvale when the air conditioner in his 1981 John Deere tractor went out.

Given the heat — with highs breaking 100 degrees on some days this month — Shaw didn’t last more than an hour in what he described as an oven.

“By the end of the day I had a headache,” he said. “The next day I fixed it. You just can’t stand it. It was way too hot.”

Shaw, who said he hasn’t had a wheat crop in four years due to drought, isn’t the only one trying to stay cool these days.

The forecast calls for another hot week, with highs in the upper 80s and lower 90s through Wednesday.

At the Hillcrest Zoo, workers have taken precautions to keep the animals cool.

“We make sure all the animals have plenty of cold water,” Assistant Zoo Director Vincent Romero said. “We’ll wet down the ground and all the animals have shaded areas in their pens … anything to keep them cool.”

Romero said none of the animals have experienced any problems because of the heat this summer, but some may not be acclimated to the Clovis heat.

The heat is probably most trying on the alpaca, a relative of the camel. The alpacas are from the Andes Mountains in South America.

The zoo’s dromedaries (Arabian camels) have already shed much of their coats to stay cool, and the spider monkeys have air conditioning units in their cage.

Romero said last Wednesday zoo officials had a safety meeting and discussed the health of the animals under the intense heat.

“We’re fortunate this is probably the shadiest place in Clovis,” Zoo Director Herschel Arnold said.

On the north end of the zoo, swamp deer will often bathe in a nearby canal in an attempt to keep cool when it gets too hot, Romero said.

Like the deer, many Clovis citizens think water during the hot summer months.

Besides the popular Ute Lake, many Clovis residents say swimming at a local pool helps keep the heat off their backs. The public swimming pool at Potter Park opened to the public on Sunday.