Glass for a V.I.P. – Very Important Polar bear

G.James Glass supply for Polar Bear Cub Viewing Panel

Polar bears are one of the most popular bears that we endear ourselves to.  Large and cuddly, yet so fierce. It is with fascination and awe that we can look on these creatures and catch a glimpse into their lives. Here in Australia, you can only do this from a viewing platform that has a clear, wide and very secure glass barrier.

With news of the resident female polar bear, Leah’s, pregnancy, Sea World engaged the builders, Astute assist them with the construction of a new polar bear enclosure. G.James Glass & Aluminium were sought for the supply of the glass viewing panels.

A new addition to the Sea World Polar Bear family

Leah has been living with Nelson and Hudson (who are twin brothers) in a large enclosure at Sea World. The prospect of the cub came as a little surprise, as Leah was not known to be pregnant until late into her 8 month gestation period.  Cub twins were born in May 2013 to Leah and father, Nelson. Unfortunately, only one has made it to this age, but Henry is doing very well. A new enclosure was required as the mother and cub needed to be separated from the male bears. Leah needs to care for her offspring and males have been known to try and eat cubs.

Designing a New Enclosure

Work on a new enclosure was started immediately. The planning and layout for the enclosure began 10 years ago, but the final design still needed to be resolved.  It was done in cooperation with the polar bear keepers, Sea World officials and biology professionals to ensure the safety and well being of the new inhabitants.

The majority of the enclosure is concrete and timber with the glass viewing panel making up the majority of one wall – all products need to be non toxic. The layout was designed to be aesthetically reminiscent of a polar bears natural habitat and in keeping with the existing enclosure.  It includes two ice wells (ponds where ice can be left for exploration and play), a waterfall, chilled sea water pool, trees and three cooling misters. The pool has loops in the bottom of it which toys can be attached to for the polar bears to play with.

The polar bear entrance is a wide area that is partially hidden from the viewing area, and so rocks have been strategically positioned to discourage the polar bears from hiding in this corner.  This area was in its final stages of preparation when we visited, and mobile scaffolding made by QuickAlly Access Solutions was being used to support the workers completing the job.

The more serious aspects of the pen are an isolated waste catching system, security door locking mechanisms, and a safety escape niche. Polar Bears are never tamed. Keepers cannot be in an enclosure with them, as they are at risk of being attacked.   The security door prevents the polar bear door to open while keepers are in the enclosure, and in case of failure, the niche only fits a person, and has an alarm button in it to highlight help is required.

The risk factor when in close quarters with bears makes the viewing panel not only important for visitors, but it is the only area they can be easily watched by their keepers at eye level.  All photography for recording the animals behaviour and publicity purposes are taken through this panel.

The Viewing Panel

The type of glass used in the polar bear enclosure is specified. The glazing has to be thick and secure enough to ensure the safety of the polar bears, and visitors. Four layers of glass, laminated together ensure this. The glass is around 40mm thick and each of the 8 viewing panes weigh 495kg. Polar bears will scratch at the glass, and these scratches need to be polished out every couple of years. The edges of the glass, and gaps in between need to be specially designed. Polar Bears will test edges and explore gaps, so they are constructed to minimise their ability to grip and claw areas.

On completion of the enclosure, officials from the Australian Institute of Marine Science inspect the final result. Any potential hazards or dangerous surfaces are highlighted and addressed prior to the polar bears being introduced to their new surrounds.

The Cubs Entrance to Public Life

Leah has been monitored daily since the birth of her cubs. She was living in her “maternity ward” and exercising in a special enclosure for the polar bears until September. Her new home was opened to her in mid September, and it was expected she would explore it for a week or two before she and the cub were comfortable with their new surroundings.  It has since been opened to the public.

G.James Glass supply for Polar Bear Cub Viewing Panel

In Comparison to a Wild Life

In the wild, a mother will lie in a dormant state (similar to hibernation) in a den made inland of snow and ice for about the second half of the gestation period. After birth, the cubs are reared in the den for the first couple of months of their lives before being introduced to the world. The cubs have about 2 weeks to gain their strength and learn to walk over distance and run before journeying to the sea. They spend between 1 ½ and 2 ½ years with their mother before going out on their own.

Click on the images for more Polar Bear facts.

Bushfire Risk, Assessment and Glazing Solutions

Australia has a love hate relationship with bushfires. It has been so much a part of the natural history here it has become an endemic part of existence; without bushfire certain plants wont propagate, although the rest of anything living, fears it. It’s just one of the many parts of the Australian lifestyle that needs to be taken in a serious light – and be prepared for.

Assessing Bushfire Risk

There have been major developments in ways to protect in the case of bushfire – from household escape plans, to continuing technology in fire fighting strategies and more recently since dramatic fire events, building design. Australian Standards have developed AS 3959, and as part of that, a system that determines your Bushfire Attack Level or BAL. In the BAL, it gives a provision for products in the building industry to be rated according to their resistance to bushfire attack.

The BAL rating for your situation can be determined by referring to AS3959 or guides provided by your local services. NSW Rural Fire Service has a comprehensive user guide as an Application Kit to the BAL for reference. You will attain one of six rated categories. Your risk is assessed by looking at type and proximity of vegetation, and the slope of the land your property is on. Your calculated BAL rating is used to select building products. Products will be rated with the same figures, offering protection for that level of BAL rating.

BAL Rated Glazing Options

G.James Glass & Aluminium has developed a BAL manual to guide people through making the right decision when looking at glazing products. It outlines the G.James glazing suites that should be used for buildings in the following high risk categories:

  • BAL 19
  • BAL 29
  • BAL 40

The G.James BAL manual outline the glazing system, glass type, hardware, gaskets and mesh requirements for the individual systems according to your BAL rating. As an example, if you have a rating of BAL 29, and need a double hung window, we will suggest you use the following:

The 136 Series Double Hung Window with a minimum of 5mm toughened glass, standard mohair, glazing vinyls and other hardware, and external screens require a fire retardant spline with aluminium or steel mesh with an aperture of less than 2mm. This is an example only, and you need to confirm details with G.James staff that can ensure these are the products you need for your individual situation.

Your selection of glazing should not be limited. G.James have BAL glazing solutions for sliding doors, louvres, double hung windows, fixed windows, hinged doors, bifold doors, awning windows, casement windows and sliding windows. When you talk to G.James personnel, they can guide you through the options.

Requirement for Buildings

There is no requirement to alter existing building materials, but if you plan on building or renovating, you will need to implement the recommendations of the the BAL report. It is a wise idea to be aware of the rating your property would get even if you aren’t looking at building in the near future. Finding out the weak points, you can make minor adaptions to the building materials or surrounding vegetation to give yourself a better chance in case fire ever threatens your neighbourhood.

Be aware of the different ways you can keep knowledgeable about risks in your area. Know your local brigade and SES, having their contact details on hand. Check your states fire services for more information.

During recent fire incidents when the heat was on, communication became difficult due to cut lines, and websites being bombarded and going down. The NSW Rural Fire Service had a great system of reporting regular updates on their face book feed. Know where to keep up to date on the latest details and leave emergency lines free for those that require it.

Be prepared and stay safe.

Beautiful Brisbane

Spectacular Brisbane Skyline

Spectacular Brisbane Skyline

On a cloudless winter day our river city is looking spectacular.

A few Facts about Brisbane

Brisbane, established in 1824, is named after the river on which it sits, which, in turn, was named after Scotsman Sir Thomas Brisbane, the Governor of New South Wales from 1821 to 1825.

Brisbane has played host to large scale cultural and sporting events.

  • In 1982 the Commonwealth Games were opened by the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Phillip, at Brisbane’s QEII Stadium,
  • the World’s Fair was held in many locations across the city and was dubbed “World Expo ’88 – Leisure in the Age of Technology”
  • and in 2001 the Goodwill Games held their last ever competition in Brisbane.

The Indigenous Peoples of Australia call refer to Brisbane as “Mian-Jin” or “Place shaped as a spike”. The spike reference no doubt relates to the fact that Brisbane is a hilly city. Brisbane, in fact, is just east of Australia’s most substantial mountain range (The Great Dividing Range).

Kangaroo Point Park

Kangaroo Point Park also features the new sculpture by Wolfgang Buttress called “Venus Rising”

Venus Rising

Venus Rising

Venus Rising was installed at Kangaroo Point Park on 19 January 2012. The artist and engineers worked to create the best possible vision for this major sculpture, destined to become an iconic marker for Queensland. Its slender torpedo shape is based on the Fibonacci spiral. Illuminated from the base, Venus Rising is a visible marker on the Brisbane skyline. Although G.James did not play a role in this project it is an impressive artwork to form part of Brisbane. More information available on the artwork available here.

More photos taken today

Brisbane City Football Club sponsorship continues

As the Brisbane City Football Club is marking its 60th anniversary, G.James is proud to commit to its continued support of the club over the last 20 years.

The Club

Brisbane City Soccer Club, now called Brisbane City Football Club as from December 2006, originated in the hearts and minds of a small number of Italian migrants who brought not only their culture to their adopted land but also an undying love for ‘calcio’ (football). After much deliberation, the ‘Azzurri’ Club was founded in 1952 and headquarters were set up at Kedron Park.

Celebrating 60 years of football

2012 marks Brisbane City Football Clubs’ 60th anniversary in Queensland football. Azzurri as we were known then was founded in 1952 by a group of Italian migrants yearning for the round ball game which they followed passionately in their country of birth.

The club became very successful in the 60s and 70s filling its trophy cabinet many times over. The late 70s saw the club enter into the National Soccer League winning the Phillips Cup in 1977 and 1978 and were grand finalists in 1979.

Today Brisbane City’s home ground of Spencer Park boasts one of the states best football facilities and is enjoyed by both juniors and seniors alike, from many different backgrounds.

The club will be running a series of events throughout the year to celebrate its 60th year.

The club commenced the 2012 season with a 6-1 drubbing of traditional rivals Queensland Lions, which surely brought back many fond memories of the old Azzurri vs Hollandia days.

BCFC Sponsorship banner circa 1980

BCFC Sponsorship banner circa 1980

References and Links