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At Potter Park Zoo, fire hoses donated by GM become toys for otters, tigers and wolves

Posted at 7:53 AM, Mar 02, 2021

LANSING, Mich. — The animals at Potter Park Zoohave new toys.

General Motors donated used fire hoses to the zoo earlier this year. Zookeepers are using the donation to create all sorts of new activities for the zoo's residents.

“We can use it to make a bunch of different things for our animals," said carnivore and primate lead keeper Annie Marcum. "We use it to make things like toys. We fold it in different ways to make cubes, or braids, or puzzle feeders."


They also use them to make furniture for animals.

Big carnivores like lions and wolves use the hoses, all the way down to the little ones like otters. Keepers also use them for some of the birds and primates.


The donation of 26 fire hoses came from the GM Flint Metal Center. Marcum says this is the second time GM has donated fire hoses to the zoo. “We first got a donation from General Motors a little over five years ago. My dad was working for General Motors at the time at the Flint Metal Plant. We were talking about work and I told him I was on the hunt for some fire hoses."

Tina Burry is the senior environmental engineer at GM Flint Assembly, Flint Engine, and Flint Metal. She says the fire hoses at GM need to be switched out every five years. It's part of their fire protection system. Instead of throwing them away, they just found a new way to use them.

“We’re trying to eliminate or reduce our waste footprint as much as possible,” Burry said. "So if there are things that we are generating as part of our business operations, what we’re trying to do I guess is become more aware of opportunities instead of maybe considering it trash to be thrown away."

She also says before any of the hoses were donated they went through a robust process. “We have to evaluate it to make sure there aren’t any chemical residue so that we wouldn’t be injecting any harm into the company or the entity that would be receiving it,” Burry said.