London Zoo weighs 19,000 fierce, prickly, cute animals

When I heard London Zoo was weighing the 19,000 animals in its care, it was the perfect excuse to go and check it out. And the verdict: it's pretty bloody cool! 

Located on the outskirts of Regent's Park, it's right in the heart of the city and easy enough to walk, tube, or bus there.

The zoo's annual weigh-in sees the vital statistics of every animal recorded, whether it's a spider, a monkey, or a giraffe. The information goes into a database that's shared around the world and helps zookeepers elsewhere compare their animals. 

Newshub was one of around a dozen media outlets to attend the weigh-in, and our tour began at the Humboldt penguin enclosure where a zookeeper was luring each of the South-American natives onto a set of scales with some small fish. 

One of the penguins was called Magenta (he/she wasn't actually magenta-coloured), and he/she weighed in at 3.718kg. Pretty decent. 

The Asiatic lion enclosure was next and while the weighing was done out of view, we did get to see the height/length measuring. They put some meat in a sack and tie it in a tree, with a giant measuring tape behind it. Heidi the lion's stretch was 7ft. 

Porcupines Lena, Polly, and Nancy were next up. Pretty cool creatures who were feasting on corn cobs so they would play ball with the keeper. They weighed 15.6kg, 17.7kg, and 14.7kg respectively. Their neighbour was Brush, a coati. His long bendy nose was fascinating to watch and he hoovered up food from the top of the scales, which read 4.15kg. 

London Zoo weighs 19,000 fierce, prickly, cute animals
Photo credit: Newshub.
London Zoo weighs 19,000 fierce, prickly, cute animals
Photo credit: Newshub.

The zoo's assistant mammal curator Teague Stubbington says the information gathered is useful for their own zookeepers to keep track of progress within the zoo.

"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.

"A growing waistline can also help us to detect pregnancies, which is so important as many of the species at ZSL London Zoo are endangered and part of international breeding programmes."

Our next stops saw us meet Jabba the African Bullfrog, the most terrifying frog I've ever seen. He was huge, keen to jump off the scales at us, and weighed in at a little more than 900 grams. On the table next to him was an unnamed black-headed python - but fear not ophidiophobes, it was only a juvenile and weighed 102 grams. 

London Zoo's biggest meerkat was crowned on our tour: Dracula tipped the scales at 1kg. I could've watched these wee playful critters for hours. Inquisitive and cheeky. 

London Zoo weighs 19,000 fierce, prickly, cute animals
Photo credit: Newshub.
London Zoo weighs 19,000 fierce, prickly, cute animals
Photo credit: Newshub.

Next to the giraffe enclosure was its relative, the okapi. They're giraffes without the long neck and are an endangered species from Central Africa. Their tongues are 32cm long and used to lick the wax build-up in their ears. Oni walked onto some heavy-duty scales and came in at 247 kilograms. 

There were no New Zealand species at the zoo, although Stubbington says a few Kiwis work at the zoo. We didn't see them being weighed though. 

Newshub.

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