How do you get a bunch of elephants to party? Just add an old fire hose and bamboo.
That's what the Oregon Zoo discovered. The zoo's Elephant Lands installed a new feeder made from a donated fire hose and mounted on wooden pole, stuffed it with bamboo (elephants' favorite snack) and watched the reaction. The big guys loved it.
"So far, they seem to love it," said elephant keeper Tarah Bedrossian. "Each of the elephants has had a chance to interact with it, and they all used their trunks to reach up and grab the bamboo. It looks like they're having fun too."
"The type of reaching they're doing with the bamboo feeder is really beneficial," said Bob Lee, who oversees the zoo elephant program. "It develops the muscles in the top of their head, which are critical to their overall health."
The bamboo feeder, made from fire hose sections woven into a large chain, was inspired by Oregon Zoo volunteers' creation of a similar feeder for the giraffe habitat. The new feeder is one of several interactive food dispensers in Elephant Lands, which opened three years ago. The herd also has access to unpredictable timed feeders, which encourage natural foraging behaviors, according to zoo officials.