London Zoo keepers begin weighing park's 19,000 animals

Checking the scales! From snakes to elephants… London Zoo keepers begin mammoth annual task of weighing park’s 19,000 animals

  • Penguins, monkeys and camels were among the animals to have height and weight recorded on Thursday
  • 4-month-old otter pups Bubble and Squeak took to the scales for the first time 
  • ZSL London Zoo was forced to close for an unprecedented three months during the Covid-19 pandemic 

More than 19,000 animals are stepping on the scales for their annual weigh-in at ZSL London Zoo as it warned of the ‘catastrophic’ impact of the coronavirus crisis.

Penguins, squirrel monkeys and camels were among the creatures to have their height and weight recorded on Thursday, which allows zookeepers to monitor their health and wellbeing.

Forced to close for an unprecedented three months due to the pandemic, the Regent’s Park zoo says a loss of income from ticket sales has put a ‘huge financial pressure’ on its operation.

Keeper Mick Tiley weighs Noemie the bactrian camel, during the annual weigh-in at ZSL London Zoo on Thursday 

Zoo keepers Joe Capon and Charli Ellis encourage a Galapagos giant tortoise to stand on weighing scales at the ZSL London Zoo 2020 weigh-in and measurement

Keeper Martin Franklin weighs humboldt penguins during the annual weigh-in on Thursday. Forced to close for an unprecedented three months due to the pandemic, the Regent’s Park zoo says a loss of income from ticket sales has put a ‘huge financial pressure’ on its operation

Sir David Attenborough and comedians including Jonathan Ross and Catherine Tate have fronted videos aiming to raise funds for the Zoological Society of London, which runs London and Whipsnade zoos.

More than £1 million per month is needed to care for the animals and, while zoos were allowed to reopen on June 15, social distancing means visitor numbers have been limited.

Dominic Jermey, ZSL director general, said: ‘The impact of coronavirus on ZSL cannot be understated.

Squirrel monkeys play during the ZSL London Zoo 2020 weigh-in and measurement. Sir David Attenborough and comedians including Jonathan Ross and Catherine Tate have fronted videos aiming to raise funds for the Zoological Society of London, which runs London and Whipsnade zoos

Two adult otters with their pair of two-month-old otter pups move towards weighing scales at ZSL London Zoo 2020 weigh-in and measurement

Zoo keeper Laura Garrett encourages meerkats with food to weighing scales at ZSL London Zoo 2020 weigh-in and measurement

‘Lockdown saw us closed for longer than any time in our history with fixed costs of more than £1 million a month just on food and care for our animals, let alone our conservation and science and almost no income.

‘Being back open is really positive. But with social distancing limiting visitor numbers, we are nowhere near able to make up the shortfall.

‘This has been catastrophic for us and we are seeking funding from a range of places.’

Senior keeper Laura Garrett weighs meerkats during the annual weigh-in at ZSL London Zoo, London

Senior keeper Tony Cholerton weighs squirrel monkeys, during the annual weigh-in at ZSL London Zoo, London

 

Senior keeper Jamie Mitchell prepares Katie the tarantula to be weighed. Each year, zookeepers armed with clipboards and calculators tally up every mammal, bird, reptile, fish and invertebrate at the zoo

Each year, zookeepers armed with clipboards and calculators tally up every mammal, bird, reptile, fish and invertebrate at the zoo – home to more than 600 different species.

Four-month-old otter pups Bubble and Squeak took to the scales for the first time, while pregnant okapi Oni tipped the scales at 288kg, a few kilos heavier than her pre-pregnancy weight of 250kg.

Galapagos tortoise Polly plodded up to the weigh-in by following a trail of traffic cones to the scales in her outdoor enclosure. 

A two-month-old otter pup waits to have its weight taken at ZSL London Zoo 2020 weigh-in and measurement

Keeper Maggie measures a giraffe during the annual weigh-in at ZSL London Zoo. Dominic Jermey, ZSL director general, said: ‘The impact of coronavirus on ZSL cannot be understated’

Squirrel monkeys are weighed during the annual weigh-in at ZSL London Zoo, London. Each measurement is added to the Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS), a database shared with zoos all over the world

A troop of ring-tailed lemurs were encouraged on to the scales by the offering of tasty treats, just one of the tactics used by zookeepers to entice the animals into being weighed and measured.

Each measurement is added to the Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS), a database shared with zoos all over the world.

Teague Stubbington, ZSL’s assistant curator of mammals, said: ‘We have to know the vital statistics of every animal at the zoo – from the tallest giraffe to the tiniest ant.

Meerkats are weighed during the annual weigh-in at ZSL London Zoo, London. Teague Stubbington, ZSL’s assistant curator of mammals, said: ‘We have to know the vital statistics of every animal at the zoo – from the tallest giraffe to the tiniest ant’

Keepers Jessica Young and Megan Harber weigh Oni the okapi, and measure her pregnant belly, during the annual weigh-in at ZSL London Zoo

Zoo keeper Meghan Harber measures a pregnant okapi due to give birth very shortly at the ZSL London Zoo 2020 weigh-in

‘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.toi

‘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 endangered and part of international breeding programmes, such as Oni the okapi who is currently pregnant with her second calf.

‘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.’

An otter during the annual weigh-in at ZSL London Zoo. ‘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,’ Mr Stubbington said 

Zoo keeper Tony Cholerton uses an electronic identification chip reader on a squirrel monkey as it stands on weighing scales at the ZSL London Zoo 2020 weigh-in and measurement

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