I have this great teenage memory of standing next to my father at the Baltimore aquarium, as we both attempted to stridently ignore the gigantic walrus penis that was flopped out right in front of us. I assume a lot of people have similar zoo memories. But, if Lisa Britton has her way, children of the future will at least have some interesting facts to go along with the familial awkwardness. She's the new "birds and bees consultant" at England's Chessington World of Adventures zoo. Her job: Explain copulating animals to kids (and help their parents get past the deer-in-the-headlights response). The Guardian has a short profile. — Maggie
Why is this owl on a scale? Because of science.
Tracking the growth of captive animals isn't just about making sure the captive animals are well taken care of. It's also an important part of understanding animal life cycles and how life in captivity differs from life in the wild. Data on millions of animals is stored in the Zoological Information Management System—a database used by zookeepers, aquarium officials, and researchers. In order to have that database, though, zoos and aquariums must do annual inventories of their charges—measuring height and weight, and recording data on details like egg-laying patterns. And this is where the cute comes in.
The Guardian has a slideshow of images taken last week during the London Zoo's animal inventory. If you've ever wanted to see somebody stretch a tape measure around a penguin's chubby belly, or coo over meerkats climbing around a scale, this is your chance.
See the rest of the photos