Penguins, squirrel monkeys and giant Galápagos tortoises are just some of the creatures who had their vital statistics recorded at ZSL London Zoo’s 2021 annual weigh-in today (Thursday 26 August).
Giant Galápagos tortoises Dolly, Polly and Priscilla had their carapaces measured, ahead of their move across the Zoo to their new Giants of the Galápagos home (opening on Saturday 9 October), while aquarist Catherine Dixon dove into the new coral tank in the Zoo’s new Tiny Giants exhibit, to measure the growth of its corals - rescued from the illegal wildlife trade.
Asiatic lioness Arya, who arrived at ZSL London Zoo in April as a new mate for male Bhanu, stretched out against her first giant ruler, before patient keepers encouraged the Zoo’s troop of Bolivian black-capped squirrel monkeys onto the scales one by one by offering up a few tasty treats.
With more than 20,000 animals in their care, ZSL London Zoo’s keepers spend hours throughout the year recording the heights and weights of all the animals - information which helps them to monitor their health and wellbeing.
The annual weigh-in is an opportunity for keepers at ZSL London Zoo to make sure the information they’ve recorded is up-to-date and accurate, as each measurement is then added to the Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS), a database shared with zoos all over the world that helps zookeepers compare important information on thousands of endangered species.
ZSL London Zoo’s Animal Manager Angela Ryan says: “We have to know the vital statistics of every animal at the Zoo – from the tallest giraffe to the tiniest ant.
“It helps to ensure that every animal we look after is healthy, eating well, and growing at the rate they should - weight is a particularly important indicator of health and wellbeing.
“A growing waistline can also help us to detect and monitor pregnancies, which is so important as many of the species at ZSL London Zoo are threatened and part of international breeding programmes, including today’s Asiatic lions and big-headed turtles.
“By sharing information with other zoos and conservationists worldwide, we can all use this knowledge to better care for the species we’re striving to protect.”
With different personalities and temperaments to take into account, zookeepers will have to use ingenious tactics to entice the animals to stand up and be measured; ’tricking’ penguins into walking over scales as they line up for their morning feed and encouraging squirrel monkeys onto the scales through fun training activities.
Celebrate the August bank holiday with a trip to ZSL London Zoo – book your tickets now.