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A team of tree surgeons and a giant crane were brought in to Bristol Zoo Gardens to help take down a 100-year-old pine in the heart of the lions’ enclosure.
The 75 feet high tree was dying and needed to be felled before it became unsafe. But it would have been too dangerous simply to try to cut it down in one go.
The tree surgeons from TrunkArb a specialist tree company led by former soldier Mark Harris from the Forest of Dean arrived at the Zoo early today (Mon).
In sub-zero temperatures one of them, ex-Royal Marine Chris Barry, was lifted to the top of the tree by the crane and then secured himself with safety lines before using a chain saw to start taking it down.
Chris attached heavy chains to the trunk and then cut the tree into roughly three metre (10 feet) sections.
After cutting through each one the crane with its 37 metre jib lifted them slowly to the ground.
Chris, 27, said: “It was cold and quite windy up at the top. Because of the wind the long branches were like sails but it was quite a straightforward job.”
It took just over three hours to saw the tree down. The last 12 feet of it were left standing in the lions’ enclosure to act as a scratching post.
The trunk’s giant sections, that weighed more than four tons, were cut up and taken away. The branches of the tree were fed through a giant chopper which reduced them to chippings which were then spread onto the ground in the lions’ enclosure.
While the work was carried out the Zoo’s five-year-old male Asiatic lions, Kamran and Ketan, were kept in a separate part of the enclosure.
Mr Harris explained that the giant six-wheeled crane was needed because there was limited amount of space around the tree and it was important to bring it down without causing any damage.
Bristol Zoo gardens estates director Tom Hedges said: “We obviously wouldn’t remove a healthy tree, however this one was on its way out and we needed to act before it became unsafe. After fully consulting with our local tree officer we carefully planned the operation and it went without a hitch.”
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