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Agriculture

Marwell Zoological Park

Most people, when confronted by a 2.5 tonne rhinoceros stuck in a hydraulically operated doorway, would be inclined to panic. Not so with Pirtek.

That, and to question exactly how their life had lead them to this point where they found said rhino wedged in said doorway. But for Martin Hood, who is head of technical maintenance at Marwell Zoological Park, it’s all in a day’s work.

Martin approached the team at Pirtek Southampton with this unusual cry for help in March 2012. “We’d had problems with the old hand pumped installation for ages, the door separating the Rhino paddock and their living quarters simply didn’t close fast enough and the rhinos seemed to take pleasure in standing in the doorway to prevent it from closing,” he says. “What we really needed was for the door to close much faster, but in a controlled manner so as to avoid hurting the animals.”

With this in mind, the Pirtek Southampton team approached Bob Jackson of Target Fluid Services who together with Pirtek Southampton Licensee Kieron Sullivan devised a suitable solution. “We soon saw why the keepers were having problems,” Bob Jackson says. “The ram, mounted high on the wall to prevent the rhinos ripping it off with their horns, was operated by an old hand pumped hydraulic power pack connected to small bore hoses that couldn’t handle the maximum flow rate for the old pump. The ram itself is more than up to the job, but it simply didn’t have enough flow or pressure going to it.”

The solution was to replace the old hydraulic power pack with an electric powered purpose built version and replace all the small bore hose with 3/4” hose that matched the new power pack delivery rate. The intrepid Pirtek engineers attached the hose and pipe work to the roof trusses keeping it well away from those marauding horns. The results, according to Helen Jefferies, Rhino Keeper at Marwell, speak for themselves. “We need to be able to move the animals in a safe and controlled manner, making sure neither they nor we get hurt,” she says. “With the door closing so quickly now, we can separate them without them realising whats going on, let alone getting in the way.”
Martin Hood is equally impressed. “Pirtek may not have been cheapest, but they offered the best technical solution and completed the installation in no time at all with a minimum of disruption to us or the animals,” he adds. “They and Bob Jackson were a highly professional and efficient team and have my thanks for a good job.”

And so, a great result all round. The rhino’s can watch the door close without getting in the way or risk injury, and the keepers can keep better control of the animals in safety. On the downside though, the rhino doorstops in the gift shop have had to be withdrawn from sale!

An interesting call out that was rather different from working on a broken down excavator.

“A highly professional job that provided the best technical solution with the minimum disruption to the animals.”

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