It all started with some prized pigs. To keep them from nibbling on each other's ears while they were bored, David Schultz's late mother Joan came up with the idea of giving them a heavy plastic ball to snort around. Thus, an industry was born.

Boomer Ball in Grayslake has been making hard polyethylene balls for zoo animals and pets for the past 28 years.

Clients have included zoos across the country, as well as Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus, Siegfried and Roy, and Michael Jackson before he and his giraffes left the Neverland Ranch.

The balls encourage animals to have healthy exercise and enrichment.