Toyota Huski skid steer helping Melbourne Zoo elephants

Toyota Huski skid steer
The Toyota Huski 5SDK8 builds sleeping mounds out of coarse sand in the elephants’ night-barn.

A new Toyota Huski 5SDK8 skid steer loader is working hard at Melbourne Zoo moving materials around to keep the zoo’s Asian Elephants stimulated and to encourage their natural behaviours.

The work is part of an enrichment program at Zoos Victoria, which includes keeper Chris Lekos who is part of the passionate elephant team providing environmental changes for the elephants, both inside their night-barn and outside in their paddocks.

The Huski skid steer allows large volumes of enrichment materials to be moved in and out of the Trail of the Elephants.

Zoo keeper Chris Lekos is regularly at the controls of the Huski, using his imagination to create new features to spark the elephants’ interest.

For example, the Huski is used to regularly refurbish the elephants’ night-den by moving huge amounts of coarse sand into mounds, which the elephants love to play on.

Toyota’s Victorian area sales manager for skid steers, Thomas Machar, said it had been a pleasure to source the Huski for the zoo and equip it to requirements with the help of suppliers. The Huski 5SDK8  has air-conditioning, heating and a HEPA filter fitted by Breathe-Safe, because of the dusty environment and OH&S considerations. A reverse camera is fitted for additional safety in tight operating areas. The 4-in-1 Bucket is from Norm Engineering and fitted with a straight cutting-edge, and a spare wheel was supplied by Bearcat Wheels and Tyres.

“The Huski comes into play because everything to do with elephants is big and heavy,” Thomas said. “The 5SDK8 is ideal for creating fun and comforting objects for them. Their sleeping mounds, for example, are really important. The keepers use the Huski to build these big piles of sand and the elephants play with them, and by the morning they’re all knocked-down. They love doing that.

“Another one they love is dropping a big lump of clay with the Huski and wetting that down into a bog-hole. The elephants will play in that all day long.”

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