Woven Fire Hose Strip Ball

If you grew up around palm trees maybe you spent some time making and playing with little balls woven from their leaves. They’re fun little trinkets for the beach and now also a popular paper craft, but we’ve got a job to do and animals depending on us to stave off boredom. We can’t work with that Pinteresty garbage, we need to work with zoo-tough materials. Thank god we have fire hose.

Take some hose and slice it down its length along the crease. For this 4″ flat diameter stuff I have about 2 foot lengths. I’m using two different colors for instruction purposes, but you would just use both halves you just created.

Take some hose and slice it down its length along the crease. For this 4" flat diameter stuff I have about 2 foot lengths.
I'm using two different colors for instruction purposes, but you would just use both halves you just created.
These we will also begin to cut in half but not all the way through.
but not all the way through.
Leave a little connected
so we can cut some tapered ends where the halves are still joined without worrying about the pieces tearing fully apart as we use this item.
I added a black stripe to help distinguish which strip is which. The two pieces are interwoven with their strips going over-under like any normal weaving would start. But notice how I've angled the the pieces rather than having them be perpendicular. That's because rather than just weaving you can think of this as a four strand braid.
f you've ever had a pony tail or made friendship bracelets you're going to have a leg up on this process. Study these two pictures closely, because repeating these steps are all that's needed to construct this ball. All I did is take the outer two strips, the unmarked ones, and continued the over-under pattern with their neighbor and made them into the new inner strips. Work from the outside in, outside in.
Let's break it down even further. Plain red will go under marked red. Because of the flat nature of the strips, the whole mess will tend to curve which will give us the ball shape we want in the end.
Here you can see the curving happen as we turn the plain red under the marked red. Our next move with the plain yellow becomes much more apparent.
Plain yellow will go over marked yellow...
...and under plain red. Now what was once the on the outside, the plain strips, are now on the inside.
Looking at it from the side just after two rounds you can see how the weave is curling up on itself like a lobster tail. At four rounds you should have curled back over in a circle. If not, try to tighten everything up or even unwind a step. At its best you'll end up with a rounded boxy shape with your strips beginning to perfectly overlapping previous work.
Here you can see where my marked yellow strip was doing just that and I began tucking the working end under the plain yellow one.
Right next door you see the marked red I'm going to follow with my free marked red strip. It will also happen to tuck under the plain yellow between my thumb and forefinger.
Slide that through and repeat for the remaining two strips. If everything DIDN'T line up, who cares? If you find something to tuck your free flapping strips under you get the same effect.
Cut off the extra and there you have it.

It. What is it? What good is it? Imagine when we had our first two weaves in that then tucked a small apple inside before we finished. Then imagine giving that to your gorilla and having that animal try to poke with their fingers, bite and pull, or squash apple out of that fire hose ball trying to get their treat. Or maybe it has a spectacular insight and actually pulls the thing apart. The next day when you’re cleaning you just pick up your two pieces of hose, wash and bleach them, then make it again.

Imagine the same with a clam and a sea otter, a quail and a coati, a Snickers and a coworker, etc.

Maybe I was a little facetious about the paper and palm balls. Hose is a little heavy duty for parrots, small primates, rodents, and others who could use a little love as well. Tuck in a peanut or a piece of dried fruit and you’ve got some cheap and easy animal entertainment. They’re fun to make, too! And after you’ve made a few they can be finished pretty mindlessly. Take some paper strips and a bowl of raisins to your next staff meeting and do something productive next time!

If you noticed that little fire hose ball from the lead image, that was made with those scraps we cut off our larger one. A great way to use up little pieces so nothing is wasted. Good luck!

Enrich Minute, USA


Quick and new ideas for zoo animal enrichment

Steven Ok lives in Tacoma, Washington where he works as a zookeeper at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium overlooking beautiful Puget Sound. When not cutting fire hose and splicing ropes at work he’s cutting fire hose and splicing ropes with his wife and three kids.

EnrichMinute is a collection of new techniques for creating enrichment primarily for exotic animals in zoos but they can be applied to domestics as well. Behavioral enrichment belongs to livestock and pets as well.

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