Whipsnade weigh-in for zoo's menagerie

The annual weigh-in at Whipsnade Zoo.

The annual weigh-in at Whipsnade Zoo. - Credit: ZSL

A huge-scale operation is underway at Whipsnade Zoo, as keepers coax thousands of animals, including meerkats, reindeer and rhinoceroses, to step onto the scales for the annual weigh-in.

The annual weigh-in at Whipsnade Zoo.

The annual weigh-in at Whipsnade Zoo. - Credit: ZSL

As part of their regular check-ups, all creatures great and small are having their vital statistics recorded as a way of keeping track of the health and wellbeing of the 9,500 animals at the conservation zoo. 

The annual weigh-in at Whipsnade Zoo.

The annual weigh-in at Whipsnade Zoo. - Credit: ZSL

Greater one-horned rhinoceros Beluki, one of the heaviest animals at Whipsnade, stepped onto an industrial sized scale and weighed in at 1650kg, while the zoo’s smallest inhabitants, like butterflies and spiders, required extra sensitive equipment to weigh them accurately. 


The annual weigh-in at Whipsnade Zoo.

The annual weigh-in at Whipsnade Zoo. - Credit: ZSL

It took a little gentle coaxing from zookeepers to encourage Heidi the reindeer to step up to her scales, whilst one-year-old scarlet macaws, Haribo, Skittles and Sherbet, swooped straight onto their special weighing perch.

The annual weigh-in at Whipsnade Zoo.

The annual weigh-in at Whipsnade Zoo. - Credit: ZSL

The animals’ weights and measurements are recorded in a database called Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS), which helps zookeepers around the world compare important information on thousands of endangered species. 

The annual weigh-in at Whipsnade Zoo.

The annual weigh-in at Whipsnade Zoo. - Credit: ZSL


You may also want to watch:


Zoological manager Matthew Webb said: “All of our animals at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo are weighed and measured regularly, but the annual weigh-in is an opportunity to review the information we’ve recorded, and ensure it is up-to-date and accurate.

The annual weigh-in at Whipsnade Zoo.

The annual weigh-in at Whipsnade Zoo. - Credit: ZSL

“With so many animals with different personalities, the zookeepers have to come up with creative tactics to entice them onto the scales, from luring Northern rockhopper penguins onto scales in exchange for their favourite fishy snacks, to encouraging our ring-tailed lemurs to bounce onto the scales for a tasty reward.” 

The annual weigh-in at Whipsnade Zoo.

The annual weigh-in at Whipsnade Zoo. - Credit: ZSL

Most Read

As well as a key gauge of the animals’ well-being, keepers can use the regular weight checks and waist measurements to identify pregnant animals, many of which are endangered species that form part of the zoo’s international conservation breeding programmes. 

The annual weigh-in at Whipsnade Zoo.

The annual weigh-in at Whipsnade Zoo. - Credit: ZSL

Best known for its own colossal beasts that graze enormous enclosures, like the two herds of prehistoric looking rhinoceroses, but also includes Amur tigers, spritely squirrel monkeys and adorable otters. 

Visitors can encounter the huge range of animals at Whipsnade, from mini to mammoth, by booking online at zsl.org 

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter