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Why zoo weigh-ins could help conservation in the wild

Why zoo weigh-ins could help conservation in the wild

Animal weigh-ins are commonplace at zoos all around the world - with the information shared internationally about thousands of endangered animals.

According to Dr Tara Pirie from the University of Reading, “Recording the weights and size of animals in a zoo directly benefits their welfare, and could potentially help in the global conservation of their wild counterparts.”

But how and why are zoo animals weighed, and can a weight reading really help save a species? This blog post explains.

Why should zoo animals be weighed?

A weight reading is a “concrete measurement” to evaluate wellbeing and review the effectiveness of zoo care.

“Giving the correct dosage of food supplements or medicines often requires you to know the weight of an animal,” said Tara.

The weight of the animals in zoos is compared to the same species in the wild in order to help species under threat of extinction.

“Although populations need to be monitored directly over time to check for increases or decreases,” continued Tara, “they can also be modelled based on basic information such as weight, life expectancy and breeding rates to give an idea of what the population is likely to do under different circumstances.”

Zoo data can therefore help to pinpoint where conservation and efforts should be focused - to increase the survival chances of threatened species in the wild.

How should zoo animals be weighed?

Smaller animals - such as snakes or lizards - can be put into a container and weighed using small animal scales, like the Marsden V-24 or Marsden V-100.

For larger mammals it can take time, effort and patience to train one to walk on the scale - usually using food as a reward to entice them. For more dangerous animals, zookeepers may need to sedate them to weigh them.

What are the challenges faced when weighing animals in the wild?

This kind of information is only gathered when the species is specifically being studied - and only then typically when the animal is under sedation for research purposes.

In the region of 25% of known animals have been classified - however there are species that have not been due to insufficient data.

Zoo weigh-ins can help fill these voids. Of thousands of threatened land vertebrate species, around one in seven have some individuals held in captivity.

Marsden newest animal weighing scale

The Marsden V-180 is our newest veterinary scale - built with portability in mind it can be taken around the zoo and used where required. Weighing just 6kg this large veterinary scale is lightweight enough to be moved by one person and features a handle for easy manoeuvre. It caters for capacities up to 180kg.

Alternative veterinary scales

Marsden V-150: This is one of our most popular veterinary scales. Suitable for weighing most animals, and fitted with handles and wheels for portability, this scale can be easily moved around a zoo and used weigh animals to 300kg.

Marsden V-100: This is Marsden’s best selling veterinary scale. This scale has a 100kg capacity and weighs in increments to 50g. Powered by 2x AA batteries it can be used anywhere.

A bespoke option: If you need a larger scale than those listed above, choose a bespoke scale. Simply let us know your requirements and we'll be in touch.

Browse Marsden’s veterinary scales here. For more information on Marsden animal scales, call 01709 364296, contact us here or use our web chat facility.