Weigh-in time begins at ZSL London Zoo

By George Berridge PA
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Every animal to be measured as part of annual check-up

The scales can be a daunting sight for anyone in summer, no more so than for the keepers at ZSL London Zoo who today began their national audit. Click through for more.

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Elton, an eight week-old Spectacled Owl, being wighed by his keeper

The mammoth job before them is to weigh and measure every animal. From meerkats to millipedes, penguins to pigs, lions to lemurs, all must be accounted for.

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A tall order! A giraffe gets measured by its keeper

The zoo holds over 16,000 animals, spread over around 750 species, which means the keepers spend hours throughout the year checking the statistics and measurements of them all.

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A keeper weighs an African Millipede

The measurements are then recorded into the Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS) where they are shared with zoos all over the world. Zoologists then use this data to compare information on thousands of endangered species.

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A keeper keeps a meerkat still for weighing with a wriggling treat

ZSL's Zoological Director, David Field says: "We need to know the vital statistics of every animal at the Zoo - however big or small."

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A giraffe waits to be measured

"This information helps us to monitor their health, their diets and their general well-being. By sharing it with other zoos and conservationists, we can use this knowledge to protect wild animals, and use it to assess their health, their behaviours and even their ages."

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A plucky penguin tries to steal a keeper's keys during the weigh-in

The weigh-in began this morning at the newly-built Penguin Beach. However, not all the birds were keen on making things easy for the keeper: one plucky penguin tried to make off with the keys, maybe ashamed of seeing the result of those extra sardines!

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A huge Galapagos Tortoise is measured by its keeper

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A group of meerkats waiting to be weighed