Stepping on the scales for annual weigh in at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Thousands of animals, including bears, lemurs and rhinoceroses, stepped on the scales on Tuesday, August 20, for ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s annual weigh in.

As part of their regular check ups, all creatures are having their vital statistics recorded as a way of keeping track of the health and wellbeing of the 3,500 animals at the zoo in Whipsnade.

Behan the Greater one-horned rhino gets weighed. Photo by Tony Margiocchi

Behan the Greater one-horned rhino gets weighed. Photo by Tony Margiocchi

Greater one-horned rhinoceros Behan, one of the heaviest animals at the Zoo, stepped onto an industrial sized scale for keepers to record her weight, while the Zoo’s tiny baby Desertas wolf spiderlings, one of the world’s most endangered species of spider, required extra sensitive equipment to weigh them.

The Zoo’s new Aquarium presented a new challenge for keepers, who donned their wetsuits and dived in to measure up some of the Aquarium’s 300 new inhabitants.

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

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.

Tizer the Poitou donkey and Trevor and Tulip the miniature donkeys get weighed. Photo by Tony Margiocchi

Tizer the Poitou donkey and Trevor and Tulip the miniature donkeys get weighed. Photo by Tony Margiocchi

“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 European brown bears to stand up at their impressive full height next to a giant ruler for a veggie reward.”
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.

Ring-tailed lemurs Quaker and Delilah get weighed. Photo  by Tony Margiocchi

Ring-tailed lemurs Quaker and Delilah get weighed. Photo by Tony Margiocchi

Northern rockhopper penguins get weighed. Photo by Tony Margiocchi

Northern rockhopper penguins get weighed. Photo by Tony Margiocchi

Baby Desertas wolf spiders get weighed. Photo by Tony Margiocchi

Baby Desertas wolf spiders get weighed. Photo by Tony Margiocchi

Aquarium a Lemon cichlid gets measured. Photo by Tony Margiocchi

Aquarium a Lemon cichlid gets measured. Photo by Tony Margiocchi

Brown Bears Snow White Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty get measured (and break the ruler). Photo by Tony Margiocchi

Brown Bears Snow White Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty get measured (and break the ruler). Photo by Tony Margiocchi