Microchip scanning our penguins
Friday 27 June 2008
ZSL London Zoo’s penguins have been helping test out a revolutionary new walk-through scanner.
When an animal needs to see the vet, it is important to be able to identify it correctly so that its clinical records can be consulted and an accurate record of its treatment can be kept.
However, while it is easy to distinguish between the two lions at ZSL London Zoo, with some other species it can be more challenging.
To help tackle this problem, we have implanted microchips in most of our animals, and have recently been involved in the product development of a new microchip scanner with Bayer Animal Health.
We were pleased to be able to help with their development of a new walk-through scanner, GateMax. Representatives came to visit the veterinary department to see how they can help in the management and treatment of our living collection at ZSL London Zoo.
We had been looking for a way to scan our penguins as they go in and out of nest boxes and this scanner would also allow us to be able to know which penguins are breeding by monitoring who is tending each nest.
The scanner was originally invented for use in scanning laundry for hotels, as big establishments microchip their sheets so they can be identified.
The GateMax scanner both identifies the animal and records their weight, which is a really important way to check that animals are keeping in good health, and should be monitored regularly. We took the scanner along to the penguin exhibit, where our birds happily walked through after their keepers.
The veterinary department is also working with Bayer to develop a microchip scanner in the style of a pointer. It’s hoped that this could be really useful for quick identification of a specific animal in an enclosure, without having to catch them up, thus minimising stress.
We hope that our participation in this research will lead to a new generation of microchip scanners that will allow more advanced management of animals in captivity.