California dreaming for Blackpool sea lions

Friday, 08 April, 2016 | Supplied by: Waterco Limited

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At Blackpool Zoo, the sea lions have long been amongst the most popular and well-visited group of animals. And in 2010, Britain’s biggest sea lion enclosure, an integral part of the Active Oceans section of the zoo, underwent a major transformation - receiving around £500,000 worth of refurbishments.

The original sea lion enclosure was built in the 1970s, and not much had changed since then. But after a contemporary design was created by specialist animal enclosure experts Zootech, the overhaul began in 2009.

Today, the nine Californian sea lions that call the enclosure home have a more natural setting in which they can live and play. Mock rock walls have replaced concrete, plus there’s a cascade waterfall and a section of beach.

The upgrade also worked on making the experience more enjoyable for visitors, with the original amphitheatre expanded to seat 250 people and the concrete fencing replaced with panes of glass so visitors can see more of the sea lions than ever before.

However, the aesthetics of the enclosure was not the only part that was fixed.

The filtration system was totally renovated and a new state-of-the-art pump house was finished at the end of 2009.

The plant room for the sea lion pool.

“The sea lion enclosure was quite old and desperately in need of updating,” said Tony Fisher, Waterco Europe managing director. “There was a lot of difficulty maintaining water quality and movement, given the size of the pool and the age of the existing filtration system. Also, the existing pool could not be broken into to add pipework.”

To address these issues, the Blackpool Zoo required an easy-to-use filtration system, good water quality with low chlorine levels and more water movement to lift debris.

Fisher says the zoo commissioned Waterco to tackle the project because of the positive impact the installation of Waterco products had on the penguin pool (also a part of the Active Oceans Exhibit).

“We have previously worked with zoo and aquarium exhibit installation and maintenance company Marine Aquaculture and provided solutions for various zoos in Europe, not to mention Australia,” said Fisher. “We are able to provide integrated solutions which address their specific needs.”

The plant room for the Blackpool sea lion enclosure.

For the sea lion enclosure, Waterco suggested a chlorinated filtration system using two cast iron pumps connected to existing pipework. The water was then fed though six MultiCyclone centrifugal pre-filters and then through six Micron Deep Bed media filters filled with glass media before the water was chlorinated and then returned to the pool.

Also installed were a hidden Hydrostar pump, which is made for large commercial swimming pools, with a 3″ pipe feed to the waterfall, and two poolside pumps disguised in artificial rocks to draw water from the pool and recirculate to the bottom.

The Waterco solutions were chosen over those of European competitors, with a great end result.

“Since the system was installed, the water quality has remained good and backwashing is easier with MPV power supplies replacing valve batteries,” Fisher said. “The new filtration system copes much better with the volume of water than the old one.”

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