Maintaining Maymont In The Heat

July 30, 2011

By Sarah DiPeppe, Marcella Robertson and David Akana,,

RICHMOND, Va.– The summer’s high temperatures have kept the crowds away and the animals indoors. Normally bustling with Richmond natives and visitors alike, admission-free Maymont Park seemed as if it were closed.

According to the National Weather Service Climate Report, the average temperature in Richmond during the month of July was a stifling 89 degrees.  Today’s high of 95 degrees and heat index of 110 degrees was well above average.

“When the heat index is over 90 we have to take them in,” said Sam Hutchinson, onsite Zoologist from Richmond, Virginia, acknowledging the importance of keeping the animals cool.

While Maymont’s wildlife, including goats, cows, deer, a grey fox,
and multiple birds of prey, are usually found out in the open for guests
to see, many were found in the park’s barns today.

See a photo and audio slide show of Maymont Park coping with the heat

“We’ve had to bring them in almost every day for the last two weeks,” Hutchinson said.

Vegetation throughout Maymont, especially in the park’s Japanese and Italian gardens, has also been affected by this summer’s high temperatures.

Tommy Tuttle, one of the park’s many horticulturalists from, said a “thorough soakin'” is necessary to keep the plants healthy in this heat.

They water them “everyday in the morning-time, so the plants can take it up during the day,” Tuttle said.

The varieties of plants that span the parks 100 acres definitely aren’t as vibrant as usual. Some of the corn plants, flowers, and grass are due to the lack of rain and extreme temperatures experienced in Richmond throughout the summer.

Although the park’s wildlife and vegetation may be struggling in the heat, locals and visitors alike still brave the extreme temperatures to enjoy all Maymont has to offer.

Anastasia Cozup and Ryan Palmer, a couple from Norfolk, Virginia, visited the park on Saturday because they had heard so much about it from friends.

“We’re in town for the weekend, so regardless of the heat you’ve got to see the sites,” Cozup said.

The couple says “lots of liquids” are necessary if you choose to be out in this heat. Even with the high temperatures, the couple plans on enjoying their day at the historic park.

Richmond native Stacy Pearman visits Maymont a few times a year. With hat on and water bottle in hand, Pearman understands that the park’s staff has to move the animals indoors “just to keep them safe.”

“I have two dogs who typically stay outside, but we keep them indoors on days like today,” Pearman said, taking the same precautions with her own pets.

She noticed the lack of animals outdoors today, but recognizes the need to keep them in a cooler climate.

“It’s still a beautiful day at Maymont,” Pearman said.