Think your dog's chew toys are fancy? Granby Zoo entertains its animals with repurposed fire hoses

The zookeepers at Granby Zoo say they’re always looking for ways to keep the animals stimulated, and to change up their routines.

The zoo recently received a number of used fire hoses, donated from various rural fire departments, and have been busy turning them into objects to keep the animals entertained. There are hammocks, balls, swings, and even hidey-holes for food.

“The fire hoses are used at large in the zoo community in a lot of different places because it's a nice, durable, flexible material that allows for a lot of possibilities,” said Granby Zoo veterinarian Emilie Couture.

The zoo had a few fire hoses already, but one of the elephant caretakers decided to check in with her local fire department in the town of Warwick, to see if they had any old hoses lying around. The firefighters were happy to oblige.

“What's really great is it grew from that and then the fire department started getting in touch with other fire departments from neighbouring communities and we've received more donations since then,” she said.

So far the zoo has received 15 50-foot-long hoses that might otherwise have ended up in a landfill.

The bears have a hammock for napping, the mandrill’s have a swing set, the gorilla’s have the run of a ropes course.

“The possibilities are basically infinite with what we can do with fire hoses,” said Couture.

The elephants have been given baskets made of firehoses woven together that their caretakers fill with food. They are hung from trees and the caretakers move them around, and fill them at unpredictable times, so the elephants have to work harder to get their food throughout the day.

“Any food in the wild wouldn't be as easy to get to as a huge pile of hay where you can just sit around all day and eat from it,” explained Couture. “So for the food enrichment, one of the goals is to prolong the time where the animal will actually have to work for his food, and find his food, and spend a significant portion of his day looking for food such as he would be doing in the wild.”

Soon other animals at the zoo could see new objects showing up in their homes too.

“When we see the animal use the enrichment over a large proportion of the day it's really the goal we set for ourselves,” said Couture. “It's really rewarding when we see the outcome of that. “

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