Persuading two black rhinos to stand still is the ultimate weigh-in challenge. But Hodari and Dayo, who tip the scales at 3,000lbs, were models of calm behaviour during the annual Yorkshire Wildlife Park (YWP) animal audit.
The playful pair, who arrived at the award-winning wildlife park this year, may weigh the same as a family estate car but they were happy to have their vital statistics recorded.
Staff at the 100-acre park have now completed a week-long audit of all creatures great and small who make up the unique attraction at Branton, near Doncaster.
From rhinos to beetles and from lizards to giraffes, all 464 animals from 80 species were measured and weighed as part of a national campaign to monitor the nation’s wildlife park and zoo populations.
Hodari and Dayo, two-year-old males of the critically endangered black rhinos, are expected to be even weightier next year as they grow and thrive in their new reserve.
“Getting the vital statistics of so many varied species takes a lot of planning and ingenuity but the staff are experts at doing it quickly and efficiently,” said Simon Marsh, YWP Animal Collection Manager. “The audit is a great opportunity to take stock of what conservation means as we focus on all the animals and the importance of making sure their species are with us into the future. Most of the animals love the attention and see it as yet another opportunity to have fun at YWP. You need patience and skill to find the right tactic to measure both the little and the large.”
Playful Amur tiger cubs Hector, Harley and Hope gave staff the run around their nine-acre Land of the Tigers reserve before having their details logged. Staff used a variety of weighing scales during the week-long process.
They also needed tasty treats to entice some of the rare creatures for their measuring moments, particularly to coax the six-banded armadillo out of its protective curled up ball.
“The staff know the animals well and are experts at making each creature comfortable so the job gets done calmly and efficiently,” added Simon.
YWP is a key player in international conservation programmes and the audit is part of the International Species Information System, which acts as a central data bank. The annual official count is required by law.
The park, one of the UK’s fastest growing and most innovative attractions, brings visitors almost face to face with some of the world’s most rare and beautiful animals. It has a unique collection of animals including Amur leopards and tigers, lions, the country’s only polar bears, squirrel monkeys, anteaters and many more.
You can view footage of the stock take here.