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A moment on the lips: London Zoo takes the measure of its occupants

London Zoo held its annual “weigh-in” of its animals on August 26.
London Zoo held its annual “weigh-in” of its animals on August 26.   -   Copyright  ZSL London Zoo   -  
By Doloresz Katanich  with AP

Some of London Zoo's 20,000 residents have had their vital statistics taken during the zoo's annual weigh-in.

Lions, penguins, giant tortoises, squirrel monkeys and camels were among those weighed and measured. It's certainly cute, but there is a serious reason behind the event.

"We have to know the vital statistics of every animal at the Zoo - from the tallest giraffe to the tiniest ant", says 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."

The statistics gathered help zoos to work together in their conservation efforts. “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.”

The statistics are added to the Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS), a database shared with zoos all over the world that helps zookeepers compare information on thousands of endangered species.

Eating for two?

Breeding programmes are perhaps the most important part of preservng threatened species. The zoo's weigh-in day could reveal an expectant mother.

“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 threatened and part of international breeding programmes, including today’s Asiatic lions and big-headed turtles."

Watch the video above to see how the animals were tempted onto the scales.