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Weaver Excavates at Elmwood Park Zoo

The weaver excavation team at Elmwood Park Zoo

Weaver teams frequently work in conjunction with tight deadlines. This tight deadline was a little different, though: it weighed 3,000+ lbs combined and was covered in tan fur and brown spots. Two African giraffes—Dhoruba and Waylon—were headed back home to Elmwood Park Zoo.

Starting in February 2016, the Weaver excavation team worked closely with builders and masons to bring two attention-grabbing exhibits to the Norristown area zoo. They dug the foundations for an African themed Giraffe and Zebra enclosure and the guaranteed-favorite Pony Riding Arena.

Their work built the best Elmwood Park Zoo for the visitors — and the animals.

“I don’t like the same old, same old. I like the challenge of doing something we’ve never done before,” Excavation Supervisor Henry Garman said. “We’ve done dozens of residential jobs, but never a giraffe or zebra pen.”

Project Details

Weaver Excavation Sites:

Giraffe and Zebra Enclosure

Pony Riding Arena

Equipment Used:

953 CAT Loader

308 CAT Trackhoe

289 Skid Loader

Dirt moved:

In total, they moved 1,200 tons of dirt, according to Garman’s estimates.

How Weaver got Down, Dirty & Creative

Excavation of the giraffe and zebra area at Elmwood Park ZooThe Weaver team knows all excavation projects are the basis for the construction that follows.  For the Elmwood Park Zoo project, that proved especially true.

“You dig the foundation and everybody else builds on top of that,” Garman said. “You need to get the footprint right for the entire project. That way the masons and builders can go from there.”

Henry’s crew first tackled the giraffe and zebra pasture.

The excavators carved a building pad for their year-round shelter out of a modest hill. Using the displaced dirt, they leveled out the giraffe and zebra pasture. When seeding the giraffe and zebra roaming pen, the crew laid the yard in authentic stone sand, creating the look of an African prairie.

For the pony arena, the Weaver crew leveled the dirt for the riding space and placed stone sand for the ponies and their riders to traverse.

The Best Elmwood Park Zoo Possible

IMG_4360Prior to construction of their new enclosure, the giraffes could only stay at Elmwood Park Zoo part time. Now they can stay year round.

In most zoos, visitors can only peer into the animal’s pens from above.  At Elmwood Park Zoo, however visitors can see Dhoruba and Waylon from ground level or from the observation deck, looking at them, eye-to-enormous eye.

When the construction was finished, Henry looked out over the giraffes and his work.

“You get a lot better view. You see how big the animals really are when you’re on the same level with them,” he noted.

Unique Challenges

IMG_4322Visitors to Elmwood Park Zoo came to see unique sights. They probably didn’t expect to see heavy-machinery navigating the walking paths.

That’s right, the zoo stayed open during the entire project. Heavy excavation machinery headed for the pony arena had to travel down paths meant for foot traffic.

“We drove our equipment right down the walking path,” Henry said. “We had to maneuver dump trucks through the zoo while it was open. That stood out to everyone.”

What’s more, the deadline couldn’t be moved. The giraffes were coming home—they needed their enclosure complete by the time they arrived.

The Team For the Challenge

The mason who brought the Weaver team to the Elmwood Park Zoo project had worked with them before. He knew they were tough — and accommodating — enough to handle the challenges.

How did Weaver get it done?
  • They worked as team with the other crews.
  • They worked hard, simple as that.

Completing this job in line with the deadline required all the crews to coordinate their schedules.

“It took a lot of working together to make it happen,” Henry said. “When you’re working with so many people you learn to be flexible. If everyone working couldn’t be flexible, the project couldn’t get done.”

The Weaver philosophy of hard work, which they bring to every job, paid-off in a big way.  Like with every excavation project, the crew got the job done—one scoop of dirt at a time.


The Weaver team finished their excavation ahead of schedule.

Visitors to the Elmwood Park Zoo can now enjoy the unique experience of seeing the Dhoruba and Waylon in their permanent home, year round.

Elmwood Park Zoo will continue to grow, and Weaver will help them do it. The zoo was satisfied with Henry’s crew and plans to bring them back for future projects.

Contact us to discuss bringing the Weaver excavation team to your residential or commercial construction project




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