This is not only a great piece of enrichment of enrichment for agile felines and primates but can also be a very prominent and permanent feature to any exhibit. This hanging pallet platform allows keepers to take full advantage of high spaces within an exhibit without taking away space on the ground. This platform will use similar concepts learned from building a Zipline by using high strength steel cable and scrap materials such as pallets and plywood.
Building Instructions/ Materials
- 1 Pallet that is strong and fully intact, the one I used used 3 3×3″ as the centre supports making it very strong.
- One sheet of plywood big enough to cover the top of the pallet
- Screws and a screwdriver
- 4 Eye bolts and a drill bit to pre-drill them
- High strength steel cable (use a size strong enough for the animal you are building this for including the weight of the platform)
- 16 Cable clamps or crimps
- 4 large high strength carbiners
- Bolt cutters
- Saw-sal or Skill Saw
- Wrench and Socket set
- First you want to decide how large of a platform you want to make, the one I made here is just a simple 4×4′ platform for lounging and placing food on, but you can also make smaller platforms that will move more and even bridges that swing using a long pallet or even multiple pallets. You also want to decide how high you want it to hang off the ground before you start.
- Once you have found a pallet that suits your needs you can then cut your plywood so it fits over the top of the pallet, the plywood serves a dual purpose of minimizing the risk of paws getting stuck between the slats in the pallet and strengthening the pallet. You can then screw the plywood down onto the top of the pallet, screw into the thicker wood so that there are no screws protruding from the bottom.
- After the plywood has been secured to the top of the pallet, you can then drill one hole at each corner of the pallet large enough to accept the eye bolts.
- The eye bolts can then be placed in each of the holes. Then using the Wrench and socket set the bolts can then be tightened till they do not move and are secure.
- Next we will move onto securing the cable to the pallet. To do this start by cutting 4 lengths of cable to the desired length, adding about one foot to the total length to account for the ties and slack needed to secure the platform to the roof of the exhibit. Once these lengths are cut you are going to want to secure one end to the eye bolt and make a loop with the other end, similar to the zip line build. For extra strength I would recommend placing 2 cable clips on each end of the cable as opposed to just one. I would also recommend tightening as much as possible with the wrench and socket to avoid any slippage at all.
- Once the cables are securely attached and you are confident with the strength of the build you can then you can attach the carabiners to the one end of the cables your hanging pallet platform ready to hang! To do this i’d recommend looping the cable around a strong pipe or post on the roof of the exhibit and clipping the carabiner back on the cable.
This item really got me thinking about smart exhibit design in zoos and the space that is sometimes wasted and under-utilized. Think outside the box with this one and try to be creative. You can also put eye-hooks on the bottom of the hanging pallet to secure food items and other enrichment items from it.