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OTC welding class constructs tiger crate for zoo

Until this semester, Jim Bridwell and his welding students at Ozarks Technical Community College had never seen, much less built, a tiger crate.

But when Dickerson Park Zoo officials recently asked if Bridwell and his students would be interested in the construction project. Bridwell said yes.

“We didn’t know anything about tiger crates. We just knew they had to be strong,” Bridwell said.

About a dozen welding students made a custom150-pound aluminum crate that measures 79.5 inches long, 29.5 inches wide and 40 inches tall that is being used to securely haul large felines to and from the local zoo.

Don Tillman, the zoo’s development director, contacted OTC about building the crate.

“We said ‘yes.’ We met with a zoo engineer and went to work,” Bridwell said.

Crocker Engineering of Springfield designed the crate according to zoo specifications. The drawings then were converted into working plans by OTC’s drafting and design program.

The crate had a number of custom features, including a removable waste pan and chutes to provide water and food.

Jackson Thompson, tropical Asian keeper for the Dickerson Zoo, took the crate to the Cincinnati Zoo Wednesday to transport a Malayan tiger back to Springfield.

“The crate looks great. It came together very well. The students have done a great job working on it, asking questions when they needed more information,” Thompson said.

The students worked on the construction of the crate for about three weeks before turning it over to Thompson Tuesday night.

“It’s been a good experience for the students,” Bridwell said. “They’ve been learning how to work off of drawings. We’re working for a customer who wants it to look good. It’s a good experience of working for someone.”

Landon McGilvry, one of the students overseeing the work, said the project was a nice change of pace for the class.

“It’s nice to know it’s going to use in the community,” McGilvry said.

Steve Koehler is coordinator of publications at Ozarks Technical Community College. Contact him at


College Director of Communications

Phone: 417.447.2655


Steve Koehler

Coordinator of Publications

Phone: (417) 447-2666


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