Our Top 5 Tips for Working Successfully in Zoos and Wildlife Parks

In recent years, CLM has developed a solid reputation working for zoos and wildlife parks across the country.  It is safe to say that from our experience supporting main contractors and working directly for the customer, we have learnt a lot about what these types of organisations need from their suppliers.  In this blog, CLM Project Manager Matt Hayes discusses the top 5 lessons we have learnt in order to ensure a successful relationship.

The safety and wellbeing of the animals is the top priority

Keeping the animals safe, happy and healthy is the keeper’s top priority and something they are incredibly passionate about.  The commitment and dedication shown by the keepers and their teams towards their animals is something we have always been impressed by.  

It is important that we develop a rapport with the keepers and their teams to understand how we can prioritise the well-being of the animals throughout the works.  Designing and developing solutions that can be installed with minimal disruption or distress to the animals is important and a good relationship with the teams who care for them makes this a reality.  

The animal transfer systems we install are operated using pullies, wire ropes and specially designed safety ratchets which allow doors to be quickly and safely closed as the animals move and for zones to be closed off effectively.  The reliability of this equipment is therefore essential.  In order to ensure the ongoing safety of the animals, the keepers and the public who visit the attraction, we spend a great deal of time considering our technical design and working closely with all members of the project team to develop the safest possible solution.  This is something we are very passionate about!

Quality is critical

When dealing with some of the largest and most aggressive animals on the planet, ensuring a quality product is something that must be guaranteed.  From developing systems which allow keepers to move tigers safely around their enclosure, to building screens that let keepers perform health checks on elephants, our products must be strong and made to last!  

Our extensive experience fitting steel doors, screens, tunnels and transfer slides means we know what specification of material will work best and we often work with customers to advise and guide on the optimum selection. 

Our experienced installation team never cut corners, every job is completed to high quality standards, which means we can pass on reassurances to the keepers.  The quality of our installation is especially important when supplying products for animals such as chimpanzees, for example, who are strong, curious and very clever.  Materials must be robust and tamper-proof and there is no room for error! 

Regardless of if we are working with elephants or newts, the same level of detail is applied to every project. 

A flexible approach is required to support the running functions of the zoo

Some projects need to be completed within tight time frames or within a designated window of opportunity. Being flexible and willing to accommodate any last-minute change of plan is an essential part of the work we do. 

By their very nature, animals can be unpredictable and we need to be ready at any moment to ‘down tools’ and leave an enclosure if a situation changes. Our installation team are always ready to react to requests from keepers to accommodate their needs. Of course, the critical work still needs to be completed within essential time frames and so we need to be flexible and pull out all the stops when needed! 

Providing and demonstrating value for money is essential 

Whilst never compromising safety and quality, it is essential that we can provide a competitive and high-value solution to these organisations, many of which are charities.  It is important that the main contractor, or the zoo or wildlife park if we are working direct, can demonstrate that a cost-effective solution is being delivered.  Our experience often allows us to suggest alternative solutions or a different method of installation which will save time or money.  A good understanding of the project and the keeper’s requirements means we can often work to specific budgets whilst still delivering the end product required. 

CLM has an in-house design team who can make 3D models of our proposed solution to allow for accurate costing of parts, materials and labour. This type of technical detail provides reassurance to the customer, as every element of the project is planned out beforehand, meaning costs won’t escalate.

The reward of a job well done is second to none!  

Since working in zoos and wildlife parks we have encountered some amazing animals, and nothing beats the feeling of a job well done! Improving their environment and ultimately their quality is life is the most satisfying part of the job and we have learnt so much over the years about how the different species are cared for and about the running functions of a zoo. 

Career highlights have included watching the chimpanzees at Twycross Zoo enjoying their new habitat, helping to move a crocodile into its new enclosure in the new Monsoon Forest at Chester Zoo, and watching the tigers use their bespoke tunnels to move about their new enclosure at Knowsley Safari Park.   

CLM design and install animal containment, animal transfer systems and bespoke steel projects for zoos and wildlife parks across the UK, including:

  • Fully integrated animal circulation systems
  • Keeper operated doors and slides
  • Tunnels 
  • Steel Structures
  • Viewing screens and windows

You can check out some of our recent projects for zoos here, or for an informal chat about an upcoming project, please get in touch with our team!

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