How would YOU weigh an elephant?

Zoo animal curators and veterinarians constantly monitor animals to ensure they stay healthy in mind and body. Just as humans have regular health physicals, so do animals. I suspect we can all relate that one of the first (dreadful) things we do during a health screening is to step onto a scale. So how do zoos weigh large animals like elephants?

Thanks to George Richey and the Birmingham Zoo for these photos showing how they weigh elephants today. In the photo collage, you can see the elephant coming into a small area where it will end up standing on a large (very large) scale.

Typically, zookeepers will train the animals to step forward or to go places and stand where the keepers and veterinarians can give physical exams or quick lookovers. Just like many of us train dogs with treats, the zoo animals might get treats during training too. I suspect that this elephant received treats (maybe peanuts?) to help guide it to and from the scale.

Back around the year 200 in Ancient China, there was a need to weigh an elephant. They did not have huge fancy scales like today‚Äôs zoos do, so how did they weigh it? Interestingly, it was a six-year-old boy named Cao Chong who figured it out. This was the first documented case of someone using Archimedes’ principle!

Would you have thought of it? Read the book to learn how Cao Chong did it. Winner of NSTA Best Stem Book, NSTA-CBC Outstanding Science Trade Book, Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People and a Mathical Honor Book. The book is available in English, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese print at your library or wherever you normally purchase your books. The multilingual digital book (powered by Fathom Reads) with native narration includes those three languages plus Arabic, Indonesian, Thai, and Japanese (Japanese audio coming soon).

weighing elephants