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    Updated on Sep 3, 2020. Posted on Oct 6, 2016

    24 Weird Facts You Probably Didn't Know About London Zoo

    The meerkats are scared of helicopters and the hippos like having their teeth brushed.

    1. There is a keeper at the zoo who has worked there for 55 years.

    Flo Perry / BuzzFeed

    This is Karen, who has only worked at the zoo for a mere 21 years. Lots of keepers have worked there for ages, because obviously it's the best job in the world, so why would you ever leave?

    2. All the poo that all the animals do is recycled and used as fertiliser.

    Flo Perry / BuzzFeed

    That's camel poo.

    3. And lots of the branches that the animals strip off leaves are turned into woodchips.

    Flo Perry / BuzzFeed

    Here Molly the giraffe shows us how to choose only the tasty leaves.

    4. The pygmy hippos like having their teeth brushed.

    Flo Perry / BuzzFeed

    And one of the hippos is called Thug.

    5. People can donate their old perfume to be used to entertain the animals.

    Flo Perry / BuzzFeed

    Here are some of the other things that London Zoo use to create different smells for the animals, like spices and herbal teas.

    If you spray unusual scents around an enclosure, an animal might think that another animal has been there and so it will get busy marking its territory with its own unique scent.

    6. Old coffee sacks and garlic can be used too.

    7. Pretty much anything can be used as something to keep the animals busy. The gorillas like to try on, or just rip apart old clothes.

    8. London Zoo is closed on only one day of the year, Christmas Day.

    9. And some of the animals actually miss the visitors on this day! Monkeys and gorillas are entertained by the visitors and can get bored when they’re not there.

    10. The meerkats are scared of balloons and helicopters.

    11. Keepers come from all different backgrounds: Some are scientists, while others used to be bankers or makeup artists.

    12. Underneath the old elephant enclosure is where a lot of the animals' meals are prepared.

    geograph.org.uk / Creative Commons

    The bearded pigs live in the enclosures now, and the elephants and rhinos have been moved to spacious Whipsnade.

    13. The chopping room has menus for all the different animals on all the walls.

    Flo Perry / BuzzFeed

    14. Gorillas eat a lot of lettuce.

    Flo Perry / BuzzFeed

    15. There are also notes of what all the different animals' favourite things are.

    Flo Perry / BuzzFeed

    16. Keepers try to build bonds with their animals and get them used to being handled by humans, but this isn’t so people can pet them.

    17. Keepers train some of the animals to do basic commands, so that they can safely move them around or check their health.

    18. If an animal is used to being handled, it’s less likely to need sedating when it needs a health check.

    19. Experiences like “keeper for a day”, where visitors get to interact with the animals, are useful as they get the animals used to strangers, so they’ll be less nervous when they need to go to the vet.

    They're also really fun.

    20. Some of the animals time-share their enclosures.

    Flo Perry / BuzzFeed

    For example, the nocturnal aardvarks share an enclosure with the daytime-loving meerkats. Every night the meerkats are put to bed and the aardvarks get their turn in the enclosure, and every morning they go back to sleep in their little private bedroom.

    21. Every morning it's one keeper's job to level out all the holes the aardvark has dug in the night.

    22. The zoo’s male giant tortoise, Dirk, is much bigger than female giant tortoises Dolly, Polly, and Priscilla.

    23. The keepers can track which female tortoise is fertile using their poo.

    Flo Perry / BuzzFeed

    24. And they can tell their poo apart because they feed only one of them sweetcorn, one of them beetroot, and then one of them neither.

    Flo Perry / BuzzFeed

    So clever!

    BuzzFeed spent the day with Karen being a keeper to learn all these facts about London Zoo.

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