Cute animals and comms: London Zoo annual weigh-in breeds PR opportunity

London Zoo's annual weigh-in, which took place on Wednesday, plays a crucial role in the organisation's work but is also a good PR opportunity for the zoo, as a member of its press team explains.

Weigh-in: The Emperor tamarins follow a tempting target on to the scales (credit ZSLLondonZoo)
Weigh-in: The Emperor tamarins follow a tempting target on to the scales (credit ZSLLondonZoo)

The weigh-in secured coverage yesterday across a number of national and international news outlets for the Zoological Society of London, the charity that owns both London Zoo and Whipsnade Zoo.

ZSL senior press officer Rebecca Blanchard told PRWeek the weigh-in was an opportunity to promote its use of a global database, the Zoological Information Management System, which is used by zoological professionals around the world, as well as "highlighting the innovative methods keepers at the zoos use to train and enrich the animals in their care".

Noemie the Bactrian Camel has her vital stats recorded at ZSL London Zoo (c)ZSLLondonZoo

Above: Noemie the Bactrian Camel: height measurement is also included in the weigh-in (credit ZSLLondonZoo)

"This is the fourth year that we have run the weigh-in photocall," Blanchard said, clarifying that it is separate from the much longer-running annual January stock take, which is required as part of the zoo’s licence.

"The weigh-in is a chance for ZSL’s zookeepers to ensure the ZIMS database is up to date, and at a time when most of the animals are at their prime or going through significant weight changes – like the penguins, which gain weight before they moult every summer."

As well as providing its own pictures direct to various media, ZSL invites photographers to the weigh-in.

"The photocall is carefully planned to ensure each area we visit can accommodate a group of photographers from the visitor areas of the exhibit, to ensure the best picture opportunities, and we have multiple spokespeople available on the day, including zookeepers and curators," Blanchard said.

"Our staff are amazing, and are incredibly passionate about what they do – so they really are our greatest assets. No one can communicate what they do and how they do it, better than they can, and people love to hear the information directly from the experts."

Blanchard says the team also talked about the weigh-in on its Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts, as well as through its recently launched periscope channel.

Below: An eight-week-old Humboldt penguin chick (credit ZSLLondonZoo)

Carl Ashworth weighs eight-week-old Humboldt penguin chicks (c)ZSLLondonZoo

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