Lowry Park Zoo uses Hillsborough fire hose for animal beds, toys

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A Maryland-based charity is helping connect uncommon partners to help zoo animals across the country live happy and healthy lives - with the added benefit of keeping large amounts of non-biodegradable materials out of landfills.

Hose2Habitat works with fire departments, public works departments and zoos to re purpose fire hose, PVC pipe, street brushes and more into toys, beds, hammocks, and grooming materials for zoo animals of all kinds.

Its most recent connection happened in Tampa, at the Lowry Park Zoo. Zoo officials contacted founders of Hose2Habitat, Lisa Daly and her husband, Anthony Slamin for help finding materials to make hammocks for its bears and otters.  

Hillsborough County Fire Rescue was the perfect match. 

Daly told FOX 13 News, she and her family happened to be in Tampa for a trip to Busch Gardens, but made time during their trip to visit the fire department and transfer some materials to the zoo. 

Daly said, since the connection has been made between zoo and fire officials in Tampa, they will continue to work together to provide animals with fun enrichment materials, like hammocks, for years to come. The partnership will also keep materials like used fire hose out of landfills - where fire departments typically have to pay for disposal of the non-biodegradable products. 

Daly, whose husband is a Florida native and once worked as a tour guide at Disney World, said they met while volunteering as emergency medical technicians with the same fire department. Their mutual love for animals, the environment and helping people brought them to the formation of Hose2Habitat. 

The organization, now a four-person operation with their friends Wilnie Petrash and Lance Salins, has helped more than 50 zoos partner with their local emergency and public works departments. Its website also provides tutorials for making things like hammocks and toys for use by animals of all kinds. 

Hose2Habitat recently partnered with glass fiber manufacturer, Owens Corning to further advance its mission.

To make a donation or learn more about Hose2Habitat, visit its website, http://www.hose2habitat.org.