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How to Lift an Elephant with a Forklift

Photo by Pranchiyettan (via Wikimedia Commons)

Let's say you work for the circus. And your ringmaster tells you to move a 10,000-pound elephant from its rail car to the center ring. How do you do it?

Obviously, the easiest way would be to convince the elephant to make the short walk from its circus car to the performing area. But what if they elephant is stubborn? Or it's sleeping?

Another way would be to use your forklift. As long as it is rated for a weight capacity higher than the elephant's poundage.

Using Forks a Bad Idea

Okay, so you need to use your forklift to move this sleeping or mulish elephant from Point A to Point B. So you simply fit your forks underneath the elephant's belly, raise it up and you are on your way, right?

Wrong! Not only is there a high risk of the elephant shifting its weight and falling off your forks, but there's also an increased likelihood of your harming the elephant. The circus has enough problems with PETA as it is!

How About Placing the Pachyderm on a Pallet?

So deadlifting the elephant with your lift truck's forks is out of the question. So how about rolling it onto a pallet and then lifting the pallet. That should work, right?

Probably not. First of all, rolling a 10,000-pound elephant onto a pallet is easier said than done. Plus, if the pallet is made from wood the weight of the elephant would probably crush it anyway.

The Elephant Transport Solution

No, the better solution for moving the elephant -- or just about any other non-palletized load, for that matter -- is to use a hook plate forklift attachment.

A hook plate attachment is made from reinforced steel and is rated to carry extremely heavy loads -- even recalcitrant elephants.

It features two parts. The first is two eyes that can slip over the forks or your lift truck. Beneath this eye plate is a hook that can attach to netting or other types of loose cargo carriers. There's usually also a nylon strap with another hook that attaches to the mast for safety.

Transporting Your Elephant

Rather than rolling your elephant onto the forks or a pallet, all you need to do is gently place heavy-duty netting beneath the elephant, then attach it to the hook plate by means of the hook.

Then you simply use your hydraulics to lift the forks which in turn lift the hook plates and netting and you can gently and safely transport your elephant anywhere you please!

While you may never have to actually lift a live elephant, you can use hook plate attachments to lift and carry a wide variety of loads using your forklift.