A weigh-in is something humans like to do before a boxing match, but any human heavyweight will have been dwarfed by the specimens stepping onto the scales at Whipsnade Zoo this week.
The annual weighing of the zoo’s animals is no easy task; thousands of different ceatures of various sizes have had to be coaxed onto the scales to check their weight and ensure they are all healthy.
St the top end of the scale are creatures like Beluki, a 26-year-old rhino, as well as the zoo’s elephants. The heaviest animal of all was Ming Jung, an Asian elephant who weighed in at 4,150 kg.
At the other end of the range are butterflies, spiders and other invertebrates so small and light that specialised equipment is needed to weigh them.
For some creatures, this was their first annual weigh-in, including Dobby the Northern Rockhopper Penguin, who hatched out three months ago, as well as two of the zoo’s newest arrivals, aardvarks Nacho and Terry.
Commenting on the weighing exercise, head of zoological operations, Matthew Webb said all the animals are weighed “regularly” anyway, but added: “The annual weigh-in is an opportunity to review the information we’ve recorded and ensure it is up-to-date and accurate.”
The keepers have had to use “creative tactics” to lure the animals onto the scales, including a sweet pepper for a lemur and fruit to get Ming Jung to climb on board.
Whipsnade will have some more elephant-weighing to do over the coming months following the arrival of a new baby Asian elephant.
The infant proboscidean, which is yet to be named, arrived on August 22nd. It was born to 13-year-old Donna, whose own mother Kaylee was on hand, or rather on trunk, to provide a reassuring presence.
Deputy team leader for elephants at the Zoo mark Howes said: “This little infant is a really important addition to the European-wide endangered species breeding programme for Asian elephants.”
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