Makalu marks microchip month

Ten-week-old snow leopard cub, Makalu has received his microchip and vaccinations – just in time to mark National Microchipping Month!

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web_dscf7845_1The rice-sized chip, similar to those used in domestic pets, was inserted under his skin by zoo vet Peter Stewart and contains a code unique to the cub.

Assistant Curator, Richard Brown, pictured above with Mr Stewart, said: “Makalu is making brilliant progress and now weighs 3.9 kilos, which is just where he should be at this age. He didn’t make a fuss when we chipped him in the scruff of his neck, which was a quick and painless procedure.

“The microchip will remain with Makalu for the rest of his life and will help keepers keep track of his behaviour, diet, health and medication.”

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The information will be kept on his record book on the web-based ZIMS (Zoological Information Management System) which is updated and collated weekly by Registrar and Research Co-ordinator, Dr David Beeston, to ensure all the data is to hand if required by keepers or the zoo’s vet. It can also be shared and accessed across the world, which means when Makalu is translocated keepers can access all of his records from birth.

NATIONAL MICROCHIPPING MONTH aims to educate pet owners about the benefits of microchipping and the importance of keeping contact details up to date.

Identifying microchipped zoo animals is carried out in the same way as domestic animals, with a handheld scanning machine that reads the chip’s code.

But microchipping is not the only identification method used across the site.

Some species can be easily identified through their coat markings, such as our four Rothschild’s giraffes whose patterns never change, while the Humboldt penguins are all fitted with armbands, which also contain a unique code similar to the microchip.

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Elsewhere across the site reindeer, goat and sheep have plastic ear tags which correspond to their record book number, while the farm’s guinea fowl have been fitted with different coloured plastic foot bands, with each colour corresponding to a different bird.

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And tortoises are colour coded, with a dab of paint on the base of each of their shells.

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Richard added: “We use various methods of identification, but they all serve the same purpose to help us keep comprehensive records for all of our 200 exotic and endangered species we have here on site.”