The Shauger Group, Inc.

New Jersey's leading contracting company.

The Shauger Group Begins Work at Turtle Back Zoo

By Nicholas Saraceno, The Shauger Group

December 23, 2015

On September 10, 2015, The Shauger Group (TSG) received a Notice to Proceed to begin construction at the Turtle Back Zoo (TBZ) in West Orange. On that same day, TSG began improvements on the zoo’s Pony Trail.

The TBZ was founded in 1963 – originally, it housed 140 animals and 40 different species. In 2015, not only is it now an accredited facility, but it is currently home to 700 animals and over 100 different species. TBZ is a part of the South Mountain Reservation, which is a part of the Essex County Parks System, the oldest park system in the United States.


The Pony Trail, located on the Essex Farm, offers pony rides for children ages 2 and up. The County of Essex is constantly evaluating how to improve exhibits and attractions at the zoo. As a result, they determined that this attraction needed to be expanded by replacing the existing pavilion and adding a six-stall barn. This is a necessary renovation, as the zoo is a premier place in Essex County and has a substantial amount of guests to accommodate.

Initial work included demolition of the existing pavilion, site grading and soil erosion/sediment control measures. The site is a third of an acre in size and situated on a steep hill, so soil erosion and sediment control measures are particularly important tasks. Managing and containing the materials, along with where they end up, is extremely important.

The pavilion and barn are pre-engineered structures; the locally-sourced materials for the truss system are installed by our skilled carpenters on site. The site has been redesigned to include a six-foot retaining wall, which divides the lower elevation pavilion and barn from the higher elevation visitor walkway. Located west on the site adjacent to the pavilion is the ADA-compliant ramp. This is a notable improvement that will ensure that all visitors have access to The Pony Trail.

The project was outlined with the pavilion scheduled to be completed first and the barn proceeding. There is not enough space on the site to complete both structures simultaneously and it is important to schedule the work so that the project is completed not only safely, but timely as well.

This project caps off a successful number of projects TSG has completed at the TBZ over the last few years. The most recent project was the 2014 installation of the beautiful new welcome sign that greets visitors on Northfield Avenue, as well as the Big Cat Country Exhibit prior to this in 2011.

The Pony Trail improvements are expected to be completed by the middle of January.



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