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Rub-A-Dub-Dub, Firefighters Give Elephants A Scrub

Tana Weingartner
A Cincinnati firefighter hoses down the Cincinnati Zoo's elephants Schottzie, Mai Thai and Jati.

A few Cincinnati firefighters took a break from their normal routine Monday to visit the Cincinnati Zoo's elephants. Members of Ladder Co. 32 used their hoses to bathe elephants Schottzie, Jati and Mai Thai.

"We thought it would be a neat thing to do, something you don't normally get to do every day," says Captain Eric Wessel. "It's sort of a nice break from making fire runs and emergency runs."

The visit leads off the zoo's Hometown Heroes Week, offering free admission to all active fire and police personnel Sept. 9-15. (The zoo is extending the offer to active and retired military, too.)

Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
Firefighters from Ladder Co. 32 use hoses to spray off the Cincinnati Zoo's elephants at the start of the zoo's Hometown Heroes Week.

Wessel says no one at the ladder company can remember ever doing such a thing before. He laughs when asked if there's a protocol for spraying elephants. Firefighters watched a video of another fire department doing something similar to prepare.

"The elephants seem to like it," he adds.

The water hoses were fed from a nearby fire hydrant and Wessel says the water pressure was kept low to ensure the elephants weren't being hit too hard by the stream.

Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
The elephants enjoyed snacks and lettuce while the firefighters hosed them off.

Elephant head keeper Eric Duning says the animals enjoy the water spray, especially when it gets their yard nice and muddy.

The elephants munched on lettuce and bamboo shoots while cooling off in their pool and getting hosed down.

Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
Lots of young children were excited to see the elephants and the firefighters.

Zoo visitors, many of them young children, gathered to watch elephant bath time. Amanda Kwast of Dayton brought her three children down for the day.

"We planned to come - I checked (Sunday) night and I saw they were giving the elephants a bath so that was my first stop because I thought that sounded interesting but I didn't really know the firefighters were going to be involved," she says. "I wasn't sure how they give elephants baths."

The morning was a hit with her children.

"It was super-duper fun!" exclaims 7-year-old Avonlea Kwast.

Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
Avonlea Kwast and her brother watch as the zoo's elephants get a hose-down from the Cincinnati Fire department.