Webcorians Deliver a New Kind of Housing Project at the San Francisco Zoo

Webcorians recently delivered a dramatically improved habitat for Gauhati, a rhinoceros who lives at the SF Zoo.

January 27, 2022


In December, a group of Webcorians delivered a new kind of project for Webcor to add to its resume - a dramatically improved habitat for a26-year-old, male greater one-horned rhinoceros named Gauhati, who lives at San Francisco Zoo andGardens.

 “The outdoor rhino habitat had been on the zoo’s wish list of improvements for a long time,” says Project Manager Marissa Chin. “We immediately hopped on this opportunity after an earlier request from the zoo didn’t pan out due to short notice.”

That earlier request came from Marissa’s best friend, SF ZooAssistant Curator Sandy Falconer, in September 2021. Although Webcor was unable to commit to that initial project, the request was the start of several future conversations discussing how Webcor could assist the zoo with other small projects – starting with revamping Gauhati’s habitat. 

“How many people can say they get to work at the zoo?!”Marissa says. “I think that many of us on the team who grew up in San Francisco and/or have family they bring to the SF Zoo had a nostalgic tie to this place and instantly wanted to participate in any way. Personally, I used to volunteer at the zoo in my middle school days, so I have some great memories of being here.”

Over the course of three days, the team replenished and leveled 350 tons of new sand within Gauhati’s outdoor yard, which not only restored his habitat, but provides the 6,000 lb. pachyderm with the deep, soft footing he needs to comfortably navigate his environment with ease.   It also created a smoother surface for the animal care staff (“Imagine walking daily in and out of pits of sand —it’s a workout!” Marissa notes); fabricated and installed pre-cast feeding pads to create an easy-to-clean surface that prevents sand from getting stuck in his eating area; and installed a training pad for Gauhati to use when zoo staff conduct positive reinforcement training with him.  

The habitat improvements were critical to Gauhati’s health and well-being; before the feeding pads were fabricated, he used flat rubber mats. Despite the zoo staff sweeping sand off the mats daily, they often remained coated with sand that Gauhati would partially ingest, giving him digestive issues. To solve this issue, the Webcor team fabricated new feeding pads with a curb to minimize sand entry. Additionally, newly installed training pads will help facilitate the various training exercises Gauhati performs with the animal care staff, such as husbandry behaviors like raising his leg for vets to check his feet and turning around on command, to allow for voluntary physical examinations.

“The work we performed at the zoo not only improves the well being of the individual it was completed for – in this case, Gauhati – but also improves a facility that serves nearly 1 million visitors annually, of which the vast majority is from our local community,” says Sr. Construction Manager Ryan Fischer.  “I am so appreciative of this opportunity that the SF Zoo offered us, and especially ofMarissa for opening the door to it.  

“I’m passionate about finding meaningful opportunities to give back in creative and impactful ways that can affect the lives of larger portions of a community by using the specialized skillsets we’ve developed in our careers, e.g. Rebuilding Together and Bridges to Prosperity. This project gave our team an opportunity to put those developed skillsets to work while thinking creatively, focusing on the end user’s needs, and realizing and appreciating the far-reaching impact of our work.”

Other Webcorians involved with this project include Sr.Superintendent Joe Bell; Project Director, Design Wayne Campbell; SafetyManager Greg Alves; Assistant Superintendent Felipe Lopez; Superintendent,Concrete Kohlton Kauffman; Field Specialist Jose Cervantes; Laborer ForemanJorge Cuevas; Laborer Maria Vasques; Laborer Joel Lopez; Superintendent Toby Hernandez; Place and FinishForeman Javier Carmona; and Laborer Foreman Jorge Cuevas.

Marissa says several opportunities for other types of enrichment-based projects at the SF Zoo are available for the wider Webcor community to support, such as creating enrichment toys for the animals and assisting with painting projects.

“As far as larger construction-based projects go, we have our eye on a couple other improvement projects at the zoo – possibly the bear habitat!” she says. “There’s much more to come!”