How to weigh a penguin and other tricks from London Zoo

Wed Aug 24, 2016 1:14pm EDT
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LONDON (Reuters) - How do you weigh and measure more than 18,000 wild animals?


And with tricks and treats.

Keepers at London Zoo on Wednesday took on the monumental job of measuring and weighing their inmates to check their health. Penguins hopped on and off scales. Tigers walked warily toward large measuring sticks.

With 712 different species calling the zoo in the British capital home, the team have an array of scales, measures as well as tricks to lure the animals for the annual task.

In the squirrel monkey enclosure, keepers used an almond treat to persuade the jumping little animals to stay on the scales long enough for a reading.

The penguins, of course, queued up to get weighed in exchange for fish.

"Our heaviest animal here is one of our giraffes weighing in at nearly ... about 860 kg (1,896 lb). The lightest would have to be something like a leaf cutter ant which is just minuscule, it wouldn't even reach the scale in the grams," Mark Habben, head of zoo management, said. 

The central London zoo uses the data to check on the overall health of the animals. Every January, it conducts a head count of the creatures and the numbers are shared with other zoos.

(Reporting By Georgina Cooper Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

A zoo keeper weighs Humboldt penguins during the annual weigh-in at London Zoo in London, Britain August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall