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Blackpool Bobcat Project Elephant

A new Bobcat T590 compact track loader has been purchased for use in the new Project Elephant development at Blackpool Zoo, in the very popular seaside resort of Blackpool in the north of England. Project Elephant is the next phase in the ongoing development of the Zoo and the largest single investment it has ever made, increasing its overall footprint by a further three acres and providing a new home for elephants that secures their future at the Zoo.

Supplied by Wigan-based Norwest Plant Ltd, the Authorised Bobcat and Doosan dealer for North-West England and North Wales, the low ground pressure and stability of the tracked undercarriage on the new T590 has provided the perfect solution for working on the deep fine sand that covers much of the floor surface of the new elephant enclosure.

Until the T590 was demonstrated, finding the right machine for the job had proved to be a tricky problem for the Zoo’s Head Keeper, Luke Minns and Head of Section for Mammals, Adam Kenyan. Unlike the competitors’ machines which failed the task because they buried themselves in the sand, the Bobcat T590 performed effortlessly and with great results. As well as the elephant enclosure, the combination of the T590 with several new Bobcat attachments such as a skeleton bucket, pallet forks and a hay bale spike purchased from Norwest Plant, forms a powerful and versatile tool to be utilised throughout the zoo.

“It had to be a tracked machine due to the sand floors in the elephant house which need to be groomed every day,” says Head Keeper, Luke Minns. “The build quality, size of the machine and the versatility proved that the T590 was a winning combination for the zoo’s requirements.”

“The demo proved the Bobcat T590 was 100% the machine for the job,” says Norwest’s Garry Wheawall. “There were a number of people from Blackpool Zoo and some from other zoos at the demo and all were impressed.”

“A number of the zoo staff tried out the machine and liked the operation and how simple it was to use. The machine ran well in the fine sand, manoeuvring up and down slopes and levelling off the sand with ease.”

“I’m very impressed with the build quality and ease of use for the operators who have varying skill levels,” says Minns. “Cleaning out the elephant house and grooming the sand is so much more efficient with the Bobcat machine and I personally like the individual access codes for operators which saves a lot of form filling!”

The T590 at Blackpool Zoo is equipped with an optional Deluxe Control panel which offers keyless ignition starting and a keycode security system which as well as deterring theft, provides up to eight users with their own 10-figure keycode to start the machine and allows the zoo to monitor and record the operation of the track loader.

“The machine will be used for hay and straw unloading, feed deliveries and moving animal crates, grounds work in the animal paddocks and clearing out animal bedding as well as maintenance work around the Zoo grounds.”

Project Elephant is a state-of-the-art facility that has been built to house a breeding herd of Asian Elephants, which are endangered in the wild and are probably one of the most iconic zoo species across the world.

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