The White Rhino is one of the biggest and heaviest living, land-based animals in the world. The male weighs in at around 2,300kg (around the same as a new Range Rover). Their front horn can grow as long as 1500mm and when they start to move, they can reach speeds of almost 50kmh.
Even GCSE physics says that the mass of a White Rhino when combined with its potential velocity gives an enormous amount of momentum that needs to be contained. Rhinos have very poor eyesight, but exceptional hearing and can be easily spooked, so should they panic or just in a hurry to get away, they need very careful containment. The risk to their own health is also absolutely paramount as they are an endangered species.
So they are not an animal to be taken lightly, when it comes to engineering a system designed to contain them in times of stress.
The first part of our role was to design and manufacture a purpose-built Rhino Crush to be used for medical examinations. You can see this being fabricated in our workshop, prior to galvanising. The briefing for the design came from the specialist team at Chessington who are experts in Rhino behaviour, to reduce stress and physical risk for the animals. The design uses diagonal bars that reduce the potential for them to become trapped during movement.
The second part of the brief was to design and manufacture a race for when they need to be guided into transport containers. These followed a similar design and were completed to the same final galvanised finish.
One of the interesting features is the engineering of the hinges. These are an obvious stress point for the finished construction. With this in mind, they have been heavily reinforced throughout and properly balanced so they are incredibly strong, but still open smoothly. This takes some serious precision engineering in both the design and manufacturing stages.
For the days of the fitting itself the Rhinos were put out to pasture on their 22-acre paddock, whilst our team were on site. This area, known as Zufari was created to replicate the plains of Africa and recreate the Rhino’s natural habitat.
Speaking to Danny Law, the Senior Engineer from Garmendale who carried out the installation, in his own words ‘It was a fabulous project for us and being able to see the Rhinos in all their glory, out in the paddock is something I’ll never forget.”
This type of specialist theme park engineering is right in the sweet spot of the Garmendale Engineering skill set. Whilst a Rhino Crush is not the same as a set of shot-gun gates, if you can control rhinos, then controlling people entering a ride is far, far easier.