A big project got underway Saturday to create a better home for animals at the Albuquerque Biopark Zoo.
It was the idea of one local boy who at 14 years old is already working hard to become an eagle scout.
Xavier Martin was running the show on Saturday. With dozens of volunteers on hand and 1,100 feet of what was discarded fire hose, the boy scout is creating hammocks for the gorillas, chimpanzees and a cheetah at the Biopark’s Rio Grande Zoo.
“[He is] an amazing young man, great leader,” said Eddie Vargas, assistant scout master for Troop 3.
“We took him to the zoo all the time when he was a kid,” explained Xavier’s dad, Chris Martin.
“I’ve always liked animals, I’ve always liked to go to the zoo, I’ve always liked monkeys and stuff,” Xavier explained.
He got the idea for this eagle scout project, which is something he needs to do to achieve the higher rank, during a recent trip to the San Diego Zoo.
“He saw that the apes were playing on these rubber hammocks so he asked about them and they said they’re made out of recycled fire hose so he said ‘I want to do that for the Albuquerque zoo,'” Martin said.
Xavier worked with the Biopark to figure out the animals’ needs and got help from local engineers for the design.
He also secured fire hose donations from several fire departments, including the Albuquerque Fire Department.
“This project wouldn’t have been possible also without the many local businesses that helped us with donations and everything,” Xavier explained.
Sill in middle school, Xavier is younger than the average eagle scout contender, but his troop leaders say his project stands out.
“He’s all around a great kid,” said Eddie Vargas.
“I’m so proud it makes me want to cry cause he warms my heart daily,” said Xavier’s mom, Angela Martin.
Xavier says he hopes the gorillas, chimps and cheetah will enjoy the additions to their home.
“We have plenty of volunteers, we have people working together and it’s just amazing to see all this and I’m excited to see what they’re going to be like at the zoo,” Xavier said.
He hopes to become an engineer one day.
He is not sure yet when the fire house hammocks will be installed in the habitats.