Recently, their giraffes got a new pulley that hoists up enrichment objects to keep them active and stay warm and cozy in their winter enclosure during the chilly months.
A pulley is a type of simple machine that makes lifting objects easier.
A pulley is made by looping a rope or chain over one or more wheels.
How Tall is a Giraffe Anyway?
In the case of the giraffe’s pulley, it not only helps the zookeeper lift heavy objects, but it also helps them hoist the enrichment items all the way up to the eye level of the giraffes.
Did you know that with an average height of 14 to 18 feet, giraffes are the tallest mammals? A pulley is a perfect solution in helping keep these tall animals moving and grooving during the cold winter days.
Pulleys are also fun to explore in your own home. We’ve been playing along with them in our Maker Studio and invite you to give it a try! Keep reading for our Recipe for Play.
See a Pulley in Action
Watch how our Maker Studio experience translates simple machine concepts to the real world! Then, try it for yourself.
Recipe for Play
Collect the items from the suggested list below.
Empty ribbon, string, or yarn spools
Length of string, at least a yard
Small wooden dowel
A weighted object to add to the pulley
Let’s Get Started!
Find a spot in your home that you can balance and suspend a wooden dowel (chairs, stacking blocks, and storage containers work great!)
Secure an empty spool to the middle of the dowel using tape.
Attach a weighted object to one end of a piece of the string. This will be the object the pulley pulls up and down.
Hang the string over the top of the attached spool. Test your pulley by pulling down the end of the string without the attached object. If the object moves up, you’ve made a successful pulley! Experiment by positioning your pulley at different heights and adding different objects of varying weights.
Let’s Wrap it Up!
Though there may be a sizable difference between the giraffe’s enrichment pulley and the pulleys you build at home, the same physics concepts are taking place.
The more wheels that you have on a pulley, and the more times a string or rope is looped around them, the more you can lift. Pulleys also reverse the direction of your lifting force (when you pull down on the pulley, the weighted object moves up).
Simple machines are as beneficial to humans as they are for animals. Just ask the giraffes on your next visit to the Great Plains Zoo; they can’t seem to get enough of them!