The many uses of firehose enrichment
Hello everyone! My name is Amanda, and as an intern this summer, I’ve had the opportunity to attend a variety of workshops and classes. Classes focused on everything from learning more about the variety of conservation programs the Zoo is a part of, to “training 101,” to the importance of enrichment in ensuring the well-being of the animals at the Zoo. One workshop I was able to attend focused on creating enrichment out of firehoses through a program called Hose to Habitat. They take firehoses and turn them into a multitude of different configurations that can be used as enrichment. Enrichment items like the firehose braid (a long, linear design where the firehose is interwoven), which the Hoofstock Team has, engages the animals’ senses and elicits natural behaviors. With the savanna animals behind the scenes during construction of the new African savanna as part of Grand New View, I’ve been able to observe the use of this enrichment up close.
For example, giraffes have prehensile tongues that can be up to 20 inches long! Having a prehensile tongue is an adaptation that allows them to grasp leaves off thorny plants like the Acacia tree. So, by sticking bamboo through the firehose braid, it helps to promote tongue manipulation. For the warthogs, the same piece of enrichment can be used to elicit the natural behavior of sparring. So, as the summer term wraps up, I can’t emphasize enough how much I’ve learned from everyone on the Hoofstock Team and am so grateful for having the opportunity to be an intern at Zoo Atlanta.