The investment by Dublin Zoo of over €4.5 million in a new 8,000 square metre elephant enclosure demonstrates the importance attached to this world-leading breeding programme of Asian elephants. The elephant enclosure was recently opened to the public by An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern who praised the Zoo’s work in elephant conservation. The enclosure will house Bernhardine, Yasmin, Anak and new arrival Asha, the first elephant born in Ireland.
The elephant house is a fairly straightforward galvanized steel frame structure with metal clad roof. Internal gantries support the pen divisions and gates and all the internal steelwork and fittings are galvanized. Galvanizing makes sense in the corrosive environment of an animal enclosure. It provides a lifetime guarantee and the sort of maintenance-free solution appropriate for these magnificent animals who themselves have a life span of over 75 years.
Key to the Dublin Zoo breeding programme is a need to examine the elephants regularly through their pregnancy to maintain them in perfect breeding condition. Elephants in captivity have particularly sensitive feet and regular pedicures are essential, as well as other veterinary treatments and pregnancy checks. Examining a 4.5 tonne elephant in a safe manner is a tricky business and Carlow company, O’Neill Engineering took plenty of advice from zoo staff before crafting their specifications into 10 tonnes of galvanized steel genius.
The design is simple yet functional. The crush chute has an array of safety features so that both the elephant and the veterinary care staff are safe when the elephant is undergoing an examination. Panels in the crush open in infinitely variable sections to allow veterinary staff safe access to all parts of the elephant’s body. Crush width can be adjusted to suit all sizes and ages of elephant so that complex procedures can now be carried out without stress or sedation. International elephant expert, Alan Roocroft has described the crush as an essential tool in the integral management of the veterinary and breeding process of an elephant in conservation.
The Elephant Crush – safety first
Carlow-based O’Neill Engineering was also involved in the development of this impressive elephant enclosure. The company is quite new to the industry but has already stamped its mark of quality with its design of the “elephant crush”. Definitely one of Director Liam O’Neill’s more interesting projects, a special “crush” had to be devised so that elephant zookeepers can handle elephants in a safe manner when examining them.
“Once you tell them what it’s for and the exact dates that you require the steel, Galco won’t let you down.” Liam O’Neill, Director, O’Neill Engineering.