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Greater Vancouver Zoo monitoring for breathing problems in animals during air advisory

Stephanie Ip, Vancouver Sun

Pompadour, the Greater Vancouver Zoo's male giraffe is seen in a file photo. (Greater Vancouver Zoo/HO)

Pompadour, the Greater Vancouver Zoo's male giraffe is seen in a file photo. (Greater Vancouver Zoo/HO)

Humans aren't the only ones being watched for possible breathing problems due to an ongoing air quality advisory in Metro Vancouver resulting from wildfires in B.C.'s Interior.

Animals at the Greater Vancouver Zoo are being monitored for breathing problems as part of their routine daily checks.

"I can tell you that my nose is dry and my throat is dry so needless to say the animals are experiencing the same thing," said Menita Prasad, animal care manager for the Greater Vancouver Zoo.

The zoo is located near Abbotsford, where air quality currently poses a "high health risk" due to fine particulate in the air and high concentrations of ground-level ozone.

Prasad said care teams are monitoring animals on a daily basis but hadn't identified any breathing problems.

"It's just due diligence, of making sure we are paying attention to animals that we know are younger and older."

Environment Canada meteorologist Lisa West said an approaching weather system could bring relief from the smoke later this week, but there is no significant rainfall on the horizon.

"We've had these light northerly winds in the interior that's blown the smoke down to the coast and down to the states, and over the Pacific Ocean," she said.

However, there is a surface trough that's expected to pass across Metro Vancouver on Saturday that could lead to a "temporary reversal" of the winds driving the smoke.

Only rain will likely properly clear the air by dousing the wildfires burning in the interior, but don't expect that either.

"We don't have any significant rainfall on the horizon," West said.

B.C.'s Ministry of Environment is reporting a high health risk rating for air quality in the Fraser Valley, Kamloops, Williams Lake, eastern Metro Vancouver, Squamish, Kelowna's West Shore, Whistler and Victoria.

Environment Canada has expanded its air quality advisory to cover the southern portion of the province spanning from eastern Vancouver Island to Elk Valley on the Alberta boundary.

A special weather statement also remains in effect after Wednesday's record-breaking temperatures.

White Rock broke a 1939 record by hitting 29.5 C, while the Squamish Airport broke a 1993 record with temperatures reaching 33.2 C.

The hottest temperature in the province Wednesday was recorded in Hope at 37.4 C.