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Coventry Scale Company’s innovative weighing solution supports Chester Zoo’s Asian Elephant study

Zookeepers at Chester Zoo are now able to better study the weight of their herd of endangered Asian elephants throughout their lifespan, thanks to an innovative new weighing solution from Coventry Scale Company.

Taking regular and accurate weights of the Asian elephants is an important part of the fantastic health care programme provided by the team of dedicated zookeepers at the zoo, however they wanted to go one step further and understand how an elephant’s weight changes as they grow, particularly when they get older or become unwell.

An elephant will typically split their weight between 60% on their front and 40% on their back. However as they age, or if they become ill, they will shift much of their weight onto their back. Understanding weight is critical in monitoring their health, and while the zookeepers can often physically see the weight shift, they haven’t had a way of accurately measuring it.

That is however, until now. Coventry Scale Company has developed a weighing solution that accurately weighs the elephants, and the distribution between the front and back.

Tom Marren, managing director at Coventry Scale Company, explains: “We were able to provide Chester Zoo with an effective way of recording each elephant’s weight by writing an application for a Dini Argeo 3590 series, calibrated with two separate UK manufactured VW platform scales. The scales measure both the front and back weight, plus the total weight, and then all the data is calculated autonomously and displayed on the colour touch screen weight indicator. This allows the zoo to gather all the information they need to monitor the overall weight of each elephant and track their weight and health throughout their lifespan.”

Since the weighing equipment was installed, it has helped to monitor the weight of all of the Asian elephants, and in particular the health of one of the zoo’s oldest Asian elephants, Thi Hi Way, who was experiencing symptoms from arthritis, as Andrew McKenzie, deputy curator of mammals at Chester Zoo, explains:

“Accurately measuring weights in our elephants is a critical part of our regular health screening and  allows us to deliver the best possible care each and every day for the herd. This includes measuring a young calf’s weight to ensure they are growing at an appropriate rate, to evaluating weight distribution in great grandmothers, such as Thi Hi Way. Being able to monitor how an animal’s biology changes with age and objectively score this regularly, to ensure we are able to provide any support required at the appropriate time, is a significant step forward in our husbandry care.”

Tom adds: “Providing unique and effective weighing solutions for our customers is what we are all about at Coventry Scale, so we were delighted to be able to support Chester Zoo in the study of their Asian elephants.”