Keepers coax animals to step onto the scales for the ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s annual weigh-in


A huge-scale operation is underway at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, as keepers coax thousands of animals to step onto the scales for the annual weigh-in.

As part of their regular check-ups, all creatures great and small are having their vital statistics recorded as a way of keeping track of their health and wellbeing. 

Keepers check all 10,000 animals at the UK’s largest zoo. 

Beluki, a 26-year-old female rhinoceros stepped onto an industrial sized weight scale, while Whipsnade Zoo’s smallest inhabitants, such as its butterflies, or critically endangered wolf spiders, required extra sensitive equipment to weigh them accurately.

A huge-scale operation is underway at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, as keepers coax thousands of animals, including 14-year-old bull elephant Ming Jung, to step onto the scales for the Zoo's annual weigh-in

A huge-scale operation is underway at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, as keepers coax thousands of animals, including 14-year-old bull elephant Ming Jung, to step onto the scales for the Zoo’s annual weigh-in

Beluki, a 26-year-old, female, greater one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) stepped onto an industrial sized weight scale

Beluki, a 26-year-old, female, greater one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) stepped onto an industrial sized weight scale

Newcomer aardvarks Nacho and Terry took part in the annual weigh-in for the first time, as did three-month-old endangered, Northern rockhopper penguin Dobby, who hatched in May.

Endangered Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) Ming Jung was coaxed across his mammoth scales – placed on the pathway between his bedroom and outdoor paddock – using his favourite healthy snacks. The 14-year-old bull elephant clocked in at a healthy 4150kg.

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

A Ring-tailed lemur was tempted with food as it's weighed by keeper Jane Storr at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo in Dunstable

A Ring-tailed lemur was tempted with food as it’s weighed by keeper Jane Storr at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo in Dunstable

Whipsnade Zoo's smallest inhabitants, such as its butterflies, or critically endangered desertas wolf spiders (Hogna ingens), required extra sensitive equipment to weigh them accurately

Whipsnade Zoo’s smallest inhabitants, such as its butterflies, or critically endangered desertas wolf spiders (Hogna ingens), required extra sensitive equipment to weigh them accurately

Newcomer aardvarks Nacho and Terry took part in the annual weigh-in for the first time since their arrival at the zoo

Newcomer aardvarks Nacho and Terry took part in the annual weigh-in for the first time since their arrival at the zoo

The ring-tailed lemur was more then happy to be weighted by the zoo cheaper in exchange for some treats

The ring-tailed lemur was more then happy to be weighted by the zoo cheaper in exchange for some treats 

Other first-timers to the weigh-in include three-month-old, endangered, Northern rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes moseleyi), Dobby, who hatched in May

Other first-timers to the weigh-in include three-month-old, endangered, Northern rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes moseleyi), Dobby, who hatched in May

Dobby the penguin was hand-fed by dedicated keepers when her parents proved unable to look after her

Dobby the penguin was hand-fed by dedicated keepers when her parents proved unable to look after her

Sweet Aardvark Nacho enjoyed some tasty treats while he was being weighed by the zoo's keepers

Sweet Aardvark Nacho enjoyed some tasty treats while he was being weighed by the zoo’s keepers 

Head of zoological operations, 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.

‘With so many animals with different personalities, the zookeepers have to come up with creative tactics to entice them onto the scales, from luring a 4150kg, endangered, Asian elephant like Ming Jung onto the scales in exchange for his favourite veggies, to encouraging a ring-tailed lemur to bounce onto the scales for a juicy, sweet pepper.’

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.

The penguins patiently waited in an orderly line to step on the weighing scales one at a time

The penguins patiently waited in an orderly line to step on the weighing scales one at a time 

The cute penguins stood on the scales until the zoo keeper recorded their weight and rewarded them with a treat

The cute penguins stood on the scales until the zoo keeper recorded their weight and rewarded them with a treat 

Best known for its own colossal beasts that graze enormous enclosures, like the Zoo’s two herds of prehistoric looking rhinoceroses, ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is home to over 10,000 amazing animals, including a herd of Asian elephants. 

Proudly helping to protect threatened species, Whipsnade has contributed to reintroductions of extinct-in-the-wild species, such as the Przewalski’s horse, and through their entry fee, every visitor is contributing to ZSL’s worldwide conservation work for animals and their habitats.

Families can see who is best at stalking like a tiger, solving puzzles like a chimp, digging like a meerkat, remembering like an elephant and taking on the giant inflatable for the Ultimate Showdown, at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s Ultimate Animal Challenge, which runs until Sunday 4 September. 

Whipsnade Zoo's smallest inhabitants, such as spiders and beetles required extra sensitive equipment to weigh them accurately

Whipsnade Zoo’s smallest inhabitants, such as spiders and beetles required extra sensitive equipment to weigh them accurately

A scorpion was weighted in a clear dish which was placed on top of the weighing scales by the zoo keeper

A scorpion was weighted in a clear dish which was placed on top of the weighing scales by the zoo keeper 

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

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

They coax the creatures to the scales with their favourite treats to record their weight annually

They coax the creatures to the scales with their favourite treats to record their weight annually 



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