It's The Weekend, Enjoy These Zoo Animals Having Their Annual Weigh-In


Dr. Katie Spalding

Katie has a PhD in maths, specializing in the intersection of dynamical systems and number theory.

Freelance Writer


Noemie the camel takes a look at how she's getting on. Image: ZSL

Whew, what a week huh? TikTokers have potentially been making noxious gases, the ISS might be falling apart, and it turns out the world’s first talking duck was kind of a pottymouth.

It’s enough to make you lose hope, so we’re here to counteract the negativity with the universal cure for despair: adorable fluffles having their annual weigh-in. Since these cuties live at ZSL London Zoo, please feel free to imagine them reacting to their results in a variety of charming cockney accents.

Awroit guv'nah, oi'm a toiny adorable midwife toad. Image: ZSL

“We have to know the vital statistics of every animal at the Zoo – from the tallest giraffe to the tiniest ant,” said ZSL London Zoo’s Animal Manager Angela Ryan. “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.”

Although height and weight monitoring of the animals under their care is a year-round process for the zookeepers, this annual check-up is important for making sure their information is up-to-date and accurate. This is necessary as it will then be shared with a worldwide network of zoos via a database known as ZIMS – the Zoological Information Management System.

“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,” explained Ryan.

This is Owlberta (right), proud owner of the best name ever. Image: ZSL

As we’ve seen many times before, it can sometimes be… let’s say, challenging to get an animal on the weighing scales. Luckily, the keepers had a few tricks up their sleeves to get the information they needed – like food:

Just step onto these weighing-- I mean, feeding scales. Image: ZSL

Fun training activities and tasty treats for the squirrel monkeys:

Look, this isn't going to work if you all get on at once. Image: ZSL

And – uh – well look, you can’t really go wrong with food and fun as incentives. Here’s Arya, an Asiatic lioness who moved to London for love earlier this year, showing off her impressive height.

There are only around 500 Asiatic lions in the wild, and they all live in a tiny area of India about the size of London. Image:ZSL

Of course, not all the animals posed such a problem. To measure the carapaces of Giant Galápagos tortoises Dolly, Polly, and Priscilla, all the keepers needed was a distraction and a frankly ludicrously oversized set of calipers.

That's Polly there, enjoying the pretty flowers / very slowly escaping. Image: ZSL

While way, way down on the other end of the scale, their comparatively ironically named “big headed” cousin could be easily picked up and plopped on the scale.

Their heads are so big that they can't retract them into their shell! Image: ZSL

Prized for its meat and for the international pet trade, the big-headed turtle is critically endangered – ZSL's big-headed community are actually rescues from international smuggling. For these animals, along with many other endangered or critically endangered species that ZSL counts among its 20,000 residents, the annual weigh-in has an extra important function: flagging possible pregnancies.

“A growing waistline can also help us to detect and monitor pregnancies, which is so important,” Ryan said. “Many of the species at ZSL London Zoo are threatened and part of international breeding programs, including today’s Asiatic lions and big-headed turtles.”

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