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A New Bobcat Lends a Hand at the Elmwood Park Zoo

Fri October 09, 2009 - Northeast Edition
Jennifer Hetrick

Eighty-five years ago, a wealthy landowner in Norristown, Pa., donated some property and some white-tailed deer to the borough of Norristown, which ultimately became the Elmwood Park Zoo. Over the decades, the borough owned and operated the zoo, changing and growing with the help of the Norristown Zoological Society (NZS), a community group that donated time and money to support the zoo.

The NZS became a non-profit organization in 1985 and took over the zoo’s management from the borough. The first long-term master plan for improving the zoo was drawn up and approved by the Norristown Borough Council two years later. In 2002, the NZS completed the last projects on the original planning list. The plan expanded the zoo from eight to 16 acres and added new animal exhibits and facilities such as an interactive playground, a café and the Oberkircher Discovery Center, which houses the zoo’s offices and educational programs.

Today the Elmwood Park Zoo, a popular, family-oriented destination, sees more than 130,000 visitors each year and takes its mission “to foster an appreciation of wildlife and their habitat that will inspire active participation in conservation” seriously. Additionally, the zoo believes “that the best way to each a child is through play” and strives to be a place where children will be able to experience the lives of the animals firsthand.

The venerable institution still relies significantly on contributions from the public and from corporate sponsors to keep things running smoothly. Recently, Delaware Valley Bobcat LLC, with locations in Hatboro and Downingtown, Pa., along with the Bobcat Company, made a significant contribution by donating the use of a skid steer loader to the zoo.

According to Carol Ann DeGiulio, development coordinator at the zoo, the new Bobcat has been immensely useful.

“Tiny Betron, facilities manager, and David Wood, general curator, are the primary operators of the Bobcat. They have used it for snow removal, mulching, grading access roads and pushing brush piles around. It also has been used to dig foundations for a new maintenance building and a new education/animal building as well as for digging trenches for a water line at the elk exhibit and an electrical line in the pony area,” DeGiulio said.

The list of projects on tap to keep the zoo up-to-date and family friendly is extensive and DeGiulio mentioned a number of materials that it is in need of to make these projects a reality.

“We need 10-inch concrete blocks for foundation and block structure of a building. Any thickness of plywood as well as two-by-four, two-by-six and two-by-eight pressure treated wood. A jack hammer with masonry chisels, builders level, Trex planks, 33 square feet of fiberglass 3 TAB roofing shingles; this list could go on forever. Time and labor are also areas where we can use help — Tiny is always busy and could always use a hand,” DeGiulio said.

Ever year, when spring begins to take hold, the zoo’s calendar of events becomes more extensive, lending a bit of urgency to the need to complete projects. Having the Bobcat on the premises made the preparations for the zoo’s busiest season much easier, according to DeGiulio.

“The Elmwood Park Zoo is sincerely grateful to Delaware Valley Bobcat for their donation. It has made many different projects possible for our in-house maintenance staff to complete, which has saved us a great deal of money and has benefited the animals. John Bailey and Chris Stemler of Delaware Valley Bobcat helped us to receive the donation and we are very grateful to them too,” DeGiulio concluded.

Chris Stemler, Delaware Valley Bobcat, was pleased that the company could make this donation and urges other contractors to join Bobcat in helping the zoo.

“The skid steer loader will help them complete many projects that need to be done for the well-being of the animals. If any contractors are willing to donate time or materials to enhance the family-oriented Elmwood Park Zoo please feel free to contact me for more information. Any donations are tax deductible but more importantly, they help promote family values in Montgomery county and our community.”

For more information or to make a donation call Chris Stemler, Delaware Valley Bobcat at 215/675-3009 or the Elmwood Park Zoo at 610/277-3825 or visit CEG

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