Animals have their annual weigh-in at zoo

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Zookeepers have been busying making sure none of their charges need to go on a diet.

As part of their regular check-ups, more than 3,500 animals at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo were enticed on to specialist scales of varying sizes and styles in order for keepers to log their vital statistics.

From a military macaw and two giant donkeys to leaping lemurs and tiny tortoises, keepers needed to come up with innovative techniques to ensure animals’ weights could be recorded.

While Tizer and Tarka, a pair of giant Poitou donkeys, one of the world’s largest breeds, trotted on to a weigh board with only a word of encouragement from their keeper; the lure of peas and sweetcorn was used to persuade the energetic ring-tailed lemurs onto the scales.

Logging the statistics of the zoo’s residents is vital to ensure the health and wellbeing of each animal can be closely monitored by keepers throughout the year.

The animals’ measurements are recorded into the Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS), and then shared with zoos around the world and used to compare information on thousands of endangered species.

Matthew Webb, zoological manager at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, said: “It is hugely important that we have the weight and measurement records for each and every animal at the zoo, whether it’s a three-and-a-half tonne elephant or a tiny stick insect.

“Regular weight checks are used to gauge an animal’s general well-being, but physical measurements can also help identify pregnancies, and this is especially important considering many of the zoo’s animals are endangered and part of international conservation breeding programmes.”

To see all the stars of the weigh-in as well the thousands of other animals at the UK’s largest zoo, book tickets to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo at www.zsl.org.

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