Recycled fire hoses have become a hot-ticket item for toys at zoos around the world.
“After watching a lot of fire hose get thrown away in annual testing, we decided to have an idea of just recycling the hose, repurposing it, and donating it to zoos and sanctuaries for use of habitat enrichment for animals,” said Anthony Slamin, chief operating officer of Hose2Habitat.
It’s an idea birthed in 2007 by two Rockville Emergency Medical Technicians crushing on each other bloomed into an international non-profit and marriage.
In 2016, Hose2Habitat recycled 53 miles of fire hose.
“They were thrilled, the National Zoo, they just went nuts,” said Lisa Daly, Founder of Hose2Habitat. “They were like, this is like gold, oh my God.”
More than sixty locations had similar reactions last year.
“Instead of just putting their food in a little dish or on the ground, they actually have to work and choose,” said Daly. “It’s more natural foraging behaviors.”
Hose2Habitat hosts workshops across the country, teaching people how to create something worth hundreds of dollars, out of recycled materials.
Since the average budget for animal enrichment at zoos is typically less than 2,000 dollars per year, anything free makes for happy zookeepers.
“It’s not just doing the enrichment for the animals, but it’s also using materials to keep them from landfills,” said Daly.
Fire hose lasts between one to seven years before it is thrown in a landfill, where it will take hundreds of years to decompose.
Hose2Habitat recently partnered with the U.S. Forest Service, and in three months, gained two tons of hose.
The non-profit is looking to transition into becoming a business; Daly and Slamin plan on working with correctional facilities to find employees.