If you had to design a place for a giant eland to live, how would you do it? Our Hoofed Stock and Facilities Departments had to work together to answer that exact question. They were tasked with creating a new barn and updated exhibit area for a number of different species, including giant eland, nyala, and warthogs. From the first meeting to the last bolt in the fence, this $1.3 million project involves 24 months of careful planning and building to create the best possible barn for these animals and the keepers that care for them.
To start the project, J.D., the Zoo’s Senior Project Manager, and the facilities team met with architects, talked with hoofed stock experts at the Zoo, and designed a building. As the project went on, they worked with engineers and skilled craftsmen to turn the paper plans into reality. Along the way, they had to make adjustments as the barn went up to make sure the structure would fit the needs they originally set out to meet.
“You’re building a barn to house animals – it’s not like building a bank. You have to think about things like horns getting in the way of cables, and you have to make sure the animals have a visual barrier so they can’t see each other,” J.D. said.
John Register, the Hoofed Stock Supervisor, couldn’t be more excited about the barn.“This will give us 16 separate stalls to hold multiple species. 12 of the stalls are dirt and natural flooring, which is better for the animals, and we will have 4 concrete stalls that work great when you have to sanitize an area for medical procedures or new animals coming to the Zoo,” John remarked.
Keepers have big jobs that include not only caring for animals, but also changing out substrate like rocks, sand, and gravel. This barn actually allows them to get machinery inside to help out. And when it comes time to scoop poop, keepers don’t have to run wheelbarrows up ramps to dump them into the dumpster anymore. A special ground-level dumpster has been created to serve this purpose.
“We also made this barn even better than the plans, because we are the general contractors. Because of this, we were even able to add a new pool and fencing for the red-crowned cranes next door,” said J.D. You can bet the birds department is also thrilled about this project!18 months into the project, the barn looks almost complete, but there is still a lot of work to do. Once the barn is done, a fence must be torn down and replaced, and there are countless finishing touches to be made. We expect the animals to enjoy their new barn this spring, and you’ll see the entire exhibit complete by the summertime.