Both of the zoos of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) have once again held their annual weigh-in. Every single animal at both London Zoo and Whipsnade Zoo has once more been weighed and measured.
And that’s not an easy task. To start with, there are more than 20,000 animals to weigh and measure (19,000 at London Zoo and 2,500 at Whipsnade Zoo). Even beyond the sheer numbers, the zookeepers must be at their creative best in order to make the weighing and measuring possible. Furthermore, a whole range of equipment is deployed: from a spoon with a built-in weighing mechanism for tiny frogs, to enormous scales for the gigantic residents. Many of the animals are coaxed with delicious treats, generally a very successful strategy to get them on the scale.
Not only the weighing is a challenge, but also the measuring. How, for example, do you measure a tiger’s length without venturing into its enclosure? Simple, it turns out: you lure the tiger with a piece of meat so that it stretches out next to the window to which a tape measure has been stuck.
The information gathered each year yields many insights into the animals’ development. All data is entered into the ZIMS, the Zoological Information Management System. These records are shared with zoos all over the world, and the information allows for the provision of the best possible care for many — especially endangered — species.
The ZSL site displays splendid photos of the animal weigh-in.