Old Fire Hoses Find New Life At the Henry Vilas Zoo
16-year-old Kawan takes hold of the line. With speed and precision she reaches forward, grasping to the ropes and slings with her hands and feet as her body swings upward. Seconds later she’s out of sight, hugging the skylights high above all who watch.
Kawan, an orangutan at the Henry Vilas Zoo, relishes the opportunity to show her fellow large primates that she can go faster and climb higher than all of them. She makes the most of their "jungle gym" built from hoses that were once used to save lives and property from fire in Madison and Dane County.
The Madison Fire Department is one of a handful of Dane County fire departments that have taken their old hoses to the Henry Vilas Zoo to be used for animal enrichment. The zoo began receiving regular donations of fire hose about six years ago. As their stock of hose increases, old ropes and other materials are replaced for the more durable rubber hoses.
Each year, the Madison Fire Department evaluates its fire hoses to ensure they could tackle the city’s biggest blazes on a moment’s notice. After years of use, it’s not uncommon for the hoses to develop pin holes or other deformities that render them unusable on a fire ground. That’s when it’s time to find them a new home.
Fire hose has proven to be a highly durable asset in zoos— and in the wild. In Borneo, hoses slung across rivers are reconnecting forests and encouraging population growth among endangered orangutans.
Building bridges and swings is just one way the Henry Vilas Zoo has utilized these tools to enrich the lives of its animals. Zookeepers have also sought the creative expertise of Hose2Habitat, a volunteer-run organization based in Maryland that teaches zoos to weave the hoses into perches, hammocks, feeders, and toys.
In addition to the orangutans, Henry Vilas Zoo's black-and-white ruffed lemurs, rock hyraxes, red pandas, and badgers all benefit from the generosity of Dane County’s fire departments. The newest beneficiaries are Sheela and Booger, a mother-son camel duo who were recently introduced to a brand new feeder packed with their favorite treat: Sweet potatoes.
Scroll through the photos to see how your favorite animals are making the most of these new additions to their habitat!
Hoses in the primate exhibits make great swings, slings, and hammocks. Recent donations of hose will go on to replace the traditional ropes that are still in use.
Hoses are also weaved into browse feeders where zookeepers can hide tasty treats like peanut butter and produce for the animals to enjoy.
Tai the red panda (pictured here) and her friend, Terrai, dine on bamboo stuffed in their fire hose browse feeder!
When the bison are out, they love to brush against and run through this curtain made from fire hose.
Bucky Badger plays with this ball made and filled with fire hose. Its weight gives him a good workout, and he'll be rewarded with peanuts! The Vilas Zoo plans to make similar balls for the otters to play with. They'll be filled with swimming noodles so they float in the water!
Visit the Henry Vilas Zoo's website to learn more about their animals and exhibits.
This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison Fire Department and a link back to the original post.
Subscribe to Email List
- Madison Launches 'PulsePoint Verified Responder' Pilot Program
- Mesothelioma Awareness Day a Time to Reflect on Cancer Risk, Prevention
- Meet Lieutenant Jeffery Vogen
- Meet Lieutenant Chris Hammes
- Meet Lieutenant Wes Ecker
- Meet Lieutenant Chris Carbon
- Meet Lieutenant Linnea Anderson
- Meet Lieutenant Dan Williams
- MFD Introduces Six New Lieutenants!
- Upcoming Community Events!
- ER Docs Dive Into Firefighting During 'Doc Ops Day'
- MFD Lends Helping Hand At Gilbert Brown Football Camp
- Special Delivery: “Beltline Jax” Makes A Grand Entrance
- New Lease On Life: Oregon Man Reconnects With Crew That Helped Save Him
- 235 New Smoke Alarms Move Into Sherman Terrace!
- Captain Todd Steyer Wraps Up A Fulfilling 30-Year Career With MFD
- Calling All Volunteers! CampHERO Kicks Off Its 6th Season
- EMS Q&A: Where can I learn CPR?
- EMS Q&A: Did you know MFD paramedics are also firefighters?
- EMS Q&A: What should I expect after calling for an ambulance?
- EMS Q&A: What’s the difference between an EMT and a Paramedic? How many paramedics are on duty?
- EMS Q&A: Why does a fire truck come when I call for an ambulance?
- Meet Firefighter Maj-Britt Williams
- Meet Firefighter Adam Thimmig
- Meet Firefighter Ruth Savard
- Meet Firefighter Mike Reisman
- Meet Firefighter Trent Meicher
- Meet Firefighter Jonathon McCray
- Meet Firefighter Adam Lesser
- Meet Firefighter Patrick Johnson
- Meet Firefighter Kyle Homan
- Meet Firefighter Joe Gangler
- Meet Firefighter Justin Fehrenbach
- Meet Firefighter Matthew Dykstra
- Meet Firefighter Brandon Douglas
- Meet Firefighter Tamara Dinkel
- Meet Firefighter Marta Darrow
- Meet Firefighter Davy Calkins
- Meet Firefighter Ryan Beckwith
- MFD Introduces 18 New Firefighters!
- A Greener Firehouse: How Fire Station 12 LEEDs the Way
- Meet AE Brad Vogen
- Meet AE Vince Soto
- Meet AE Chad Powell
- Meet AE Daniel Pazurek
- Meet AE Todd Mahoney
- Meet Apparatus Engineer Cole Christenson
- Meet AE Derek Brown
- New Apparatus Engineers Now Serving In Your Neighborhood!
- Dane County EMS Banquet Honors Survivors, Responders Involved In Cardiac Saves
- On This Day In History: The First 911 Call Is Placed In 1968
- PHOTOS: Getting Up Close With The Lake Rescue Team
- Sable Flames "Second Alarm" Benefit Enters Its 24th Year
- Madison's Iranian Community Comes Together To Honor Firefighters
- Building Connections, Inspiring Kids: Engine 12 At Olson Elementary School
- Welcome Home: Cooper's Hawk Returns To Willy Street
- The Results Are In: 91 Donations Collected During the “Never Forget” Blood Drive
- Meet AE Ethan Dade
- Meet AE Wade Raddatz
- Meet AE Lance Radock
- Meet AE Jacob Conner
- Meet AE Dan Smith
- Meet AE Kevin Hembrook
- National Preparedness Month: Special Needs Disaster Planning
- Meet AE Tom Winter
- Meet AE Lori Karst
- MFD Introduces Eight New Apparatus Engineers
- Generous Grant Brings New "Jaws Of Life" Equipment To Ladder 6
- National Preparedness Month: Creating Communication and Evacuation Plans
- National Preparedness Month: Don't Wait. Communicate.
- “Doc Ops Day” Gives ER Docs A Taste Of Firefighter Life
- Two Years After Accident, Family And First Responders Celebrate 'A Miracle'
- Madison Fire Aims To Keep Injuries Well Under Par At PGA Championships
- “It’s Been A Great Ride," Says Retiring Driver John Lucille
- A Thank-You Gift For All To Enjoy
- “Friday Nights At the Y” Returns In 2016
- Meet Lt. Lisa Becher
- Meet Lt. Derek Teff
- Meet Lt. Casey Preimesberger
- Resources For Candidates Preparing For the Physical Ability Test
- Meet Lt. Sue Juedes
- Meet Lt. Ted Higgins
- Meet Lt. Matthew Mialik
- Meet Lt. Michael McCartney
- MFD Introduces Seven New Lieutenants
- Inside The Galaxie: Making Madison's Newest High Rise Safer For All
- Edgewood Students Donate Stuffed Animals For Kids Experiencing Trauma
- Apparatus Engineer "Recon Bob" Says Goodbye After 25 Years Of Service
- New Boat Enhances MFD Lake Rescue Capabilities
- With Gratitude, Division Chief Ron Schwenn Bids Farewell To the MFD
- New Training Technology Aims to Offer Full Immersion, Minus the Risks
- In the Midst Of Transitions, Our Crews Don't Miss A Beat
- Finance Manager Rita Johnson Retires After 44 Years With the City
- Farewell to West District Captain Tom Reiter
- Meet Firefighter Caluster Buie
- Meet Firefighter Steven Foulks
- Meet Firefighter Richard Miyagawa
- Meet Firefighter Joshua Balli
- Meet Firefighter Matthew Boyle
- Meet Firefighter Oscar Castillo
- Meet Firefighter David Bartkowiak
- Meet Firefighter Christopher Staveness
- Meet Firefighter Michael Guerten
- Meet Firefighter Marcus Bobholz
- Meet Firefighter Joshua Ramsey
- Meet Firefighter Michael Olson
- Meet Firefighter Eric Popovich
- Meet Firefighter Paul Schecklman
- Meet Firefighter Brian Tremain
- Meet Firefighter Cameron Gasaway
- Meet Firefighter Vaughn Brockel
- Why We Do What We Do: Remembering the Our Lady of the Angels Fire
- Meet Firefighter Brian Bieganski
- The Madison Fire Department Prepares For Inaugural "Shake the Lake" Event
- The Heavy Urban Rescue Team Practices Life-Saving Skills
- Safety Saturday 2015: A Day In Photos
- Firefighter Fun Day 2015 is Saturday, August 8
- Retired Firefighter Tim Healy Inducted Into Madison Sports Hall Of Fame
- Firefighter Ty Stebbins Sworn In
- A Day In The Life Of A Madison Firefighter
- Alix Olson Award
- Awards & Recognition
- Battle Of the Badges
- Black History Month
- Cancer Prevention
- Community Outreach
- Dane County Public Safety Communications
- Fire Academy
- Fire Prevention Division
- fire prevention month
- Fire Prevention Week
- Fire Safety School Tours
- Fire Stations
- Firefighter Fun Day
- Friday Nights at the Y
- Hazmat Team
- Heavy Urban Rescue Team
- Hiring & Promotions
- Join the Team
- Lake Rescue Team
- Madison Fire EMS
- Meet the MFD
- Mesothelioma Awareness Day
- MFD Behind the Scenes
- MFD Mailbag
- MFD Prevention Division
- National Preparedness Month
- Our Lady Of the Angels
- public health
- Public Safety
- Sable Flames
- Safety Town
- Shake the Lake
- The American Center
- Training & Professional Development
- UW Health
- Wanda Fullmore Youth Internship Program
- Winter Safety