Animals big and small weigh-in at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo
- Credit: Archant
Big things are happening at ZLS Whipsnade Zoo and we’re not just talking about the rhinos.
Zookeepers at Whipsnade have coaxed all the animals to step onto the scales for their annual weigh-in.
This is a huge-scale operation which included thousands of animals of all shapes and sizes from the light as a feather butterflies to the colossal rhinos.
In order to keep track of the health and wellbeing of all 3,500 creatures they must have this vital weighing as part of their frequent check up, which involves all the animals being encouraged by zookeepers to hop on the scales.
Weighing in at over one and a half tons was Behan - a female Asian rhinoceros. She had to use industrial scales, being one of the heaviest animals at the zoo.
While Partula, a tiny snail which is extinct from the wild, stepped on to extra sensitive scales in order to be weighed accurately and came out at just 4mg.
These measurements and the others are recorded into the zoological information management system (ZIMS).
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This database is shared with zoos all around the country and helps keepers gather critical information about endangered species.
Zoological manager Matthew Webb said: “All of our animals at ZLS Whipsnade Zoo have regular check-ups and are monitored daily, but the annual weigh-in is an opportunity to make sure the information we’ve recorded is up-to-date and accurate.
“With so many animals that are all so different from one another, our keepers have to come up with creative tactics to entice them onto the scales, from getting meerkats to clamber onto tiny scales to retrieve live crickets, to gently encouraging our Przewalski’s horses (an endangered species of Mongolian wild horse) to walk over a large weight board for a veggie reward.”
These checks, and others like waist measurements, can not only be used by keepers as a key gauge of the animals’ well-being but also to identify other crucial information such as whether an endangered animal is pregnant.
This forms an important part the zoo’s international conservation breeding programme.