Quebec fire departments donate old hoses to help zoo animals have fun

·2 min read
Quebec fire departments donate old hoses to help zoo animals have fun
The Granby Zoo's maintenance staff has used the fire hose to revamp the baboon enclosure. (Radio-Canada - image credit)
The Granby Zoo's maintenance staff has used the fire hose to revamp the baboon enclosure. (Radio-Canada - image credit)

At the Granby Zoo, a baboon jumps several metres in its enclosure to grab and swing from a suspended firehose.

Elsewhere, an elephant uses its trunk to tug at a large hanging basket woven from that same tough material.

The zoo, about 80 kilometres east of Montreal, is finding creative ways to keep its animals stimulated and entertained thanks to donated and repurposed hoses from neighbouring municipalities, including from firefighters in Warwick.

"Not only did they have some, they got into contact with fire departments from neighbouring municipalities, and then the word spread around and we've been receiving more since," said Dr. Émilie Couture, a veterinarian at Granby Zoo. "We've been able to make a whole new set of enrichments for the animals with those."

She explained that while hoses eventually fail pressure tests and can no longer meet the needs of firefighters, they're still made of a durable material that can be transformed into countless items for a variety of species.

"The possibilities are basically infinite," Couture said.

The Granby Zoo's maintenance staff has used the fire hose to revamp the baboon enclosure.
The Granby Zoo's maintenance staff has used the fire hose to revamp the baboon enclosure.(Radio-Canada)

The zoo's maintenance department has turned the donations into climbing structures, hammocks, balls for games, and baskets to help simulate the foraging some animals do in the wild.

Couture said they're also easy to wash, and can withstand the claws and jaws of the zoo's large carnivores.

"They can make anything out of anything while still making sure it's safe for the animals, that it'll be sturdy through time, and that it will meet their physical and psychological needs," the veterinarian said.

She said the animals that have benefited the most from the firehoses are the large primates: The gorillas will see it installed in their new exhibit.

The hoses are also popular with the large carnivores and bears, and the elephants.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic limiting the number of visitors that are allowed at the zoo at one time, Couture said the animals are doing well.

She explained that being in an orange zone means the administration has been able to maintain staffing levels, so the animals are receiving the same quality of care as usual.

She said all are happy and content, except the parakeets, which are very social birds that likely miss the social interaction that comes with thousands of daily visitors to the zoo in a normal season.