Zoos could become sustainable logistic centres as first trained elephant prepares for work on Southwark site

Elephants are set to replace heavy plant on construction sites in the government’s latest drive to cut carbon emissions.

Building can reveal that trials have been taking place at zoos since Christmas. The first trained elephant is expected to start work on a large mixed-use development in Southwark this summer.

“Elephants are well known for carrying heavy logs so training them to crane in items such as SIPs panels has been no problem at all,” says Nell Hannibal, chief executive of Animals in Construction.

Hannibal has dismissed fears that rogue elephants could cause potential crushing injuries on site. She says a PPE manufacturer is working on supersize jackets that can be fastened securely under elephants by the principal contractor.

“This should ensure safety,” says Hannibal. “If you can’t spot an elephant in a hi-vis vest you probably shouldn’t be on a building site in the first place.”

Oversized construction hats will not be necessary, says Hannibal, as elephants have extremely tough hides that have evolved to withstand attacks from crocodiles and rhinoceros.

Elephants working on the 2012 venues in Stratford will wear white vests to reflect the traditional athletic strips worn by British Olympians.