Weighing Elephants

Weighing Elephants: A Mammoth Task

Image of baby elephant on METTLER TOLEDO floor scaleKalaya, the baby elephant who lives in Knies Children’s Zoo in the Swiss town of Rapperswil, is thriving. Every day her growth is measured, both in meters and centimeters and also in kilograms. Regular weighing is a reliable way to show the development of this playful girl, who will soon weigh several tons.

When she was born on November 1, 2013, Kalaya weighed an impressive 100 kilograms. She is now growing up in an all-female environment with her mother Sandry, grandmother Claudy, and other elephants who have taken on the role of aunts.

Since being founded in 1962, the Knies Children’s Zoo has become a popular place for visitors, who can meet about 400 animals. Their heavy Asian elephants are a special attraction here; they can weigh up to 5 tons and live for up to 70 years.

Estimating is good, weighing is better

Kalaya is weighed as part of her regular veterinary check-ups, which help to ensure that she remains healthy as she grows. During the first six months of her life, she was fed only nourishing milk from her mother.

“By weighing Kalaya, we were quickly able to ascertain whether Kalaya was drinking enough and her mother Sandry was producing enough milk,” says Zoo-keeper Torsten Oppermann. If Kalaya ever needed to receive medication, the dosage could be calculated precisely based on her weight at that time.

Elephants are naturally skeptical creatures. How can Kalaya be persuaded to stand on a scale? “She is curious, playful, and is eager to discover everything, even how it feels to stand on a scale,” says Oppermann. It is also important to monitor the weight of adult elephants.

Robust scales for demanding environments

Image of a herd of elephants

Kalaya with Patma, her grandmother Claudy, mother Sandry, and Sumatra (left to right)

Weighing elephants in this environment is a real test of endurance for the weighing scales. “When choosing a scale, we could not afford to make any compromises whatsoever. It had to be extremely robust,” says Oppermann. METTLER TOLEDO’s PUA579 is the ideal candidate for this job. This scale has a very deep design, providing a smaller area to be exposed to any shocks, such as playful kicks by the elephant. This deep design also makes it easy for Kalaya to step onto the load plate. The scale has a maximum weight of 1,500 kilograms, so Kalaya can continue to be weighed for another five years to come.

Service as a distinguishing feature

For Zoo Owner Franco Knie Sr., there were other factors involved in the choice of scales. Knie says, “The Knie family business has been around for generations. METTLER TOLEDO is a competent partner who not only delivers high-quality products, but also guarantees excellent service at all times.”

Image of METTLER TOLEDO IND890 Scale TerminalWhen weighing elephants, both the scale and the IND890 terminal become very dirty. Both pieces of equipment are protected against water, so regular cleaning is not a problem. That means that hygiene regulations can always be adhered to. For Oppermann, another advantage is the display, which uses large numbers and is easy to read. “I can concentrate on Kalaya and still read the weight without having to stand right next to the terminal.”

A new Himmapan elephant park is currently being built at Knies Children’s Zoo. “Our experience with elephant weighing is so positive that we will, in all likelihood, install a weighing scale for adult elephants too,” says Torsen Oppermann.

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