Weighing scales play an important role in a number of different roles at the zoo. Usually, the amount of food required by the animals must be weighed. The digital scales used must be able to withstand a wet environment, as they may often need to be washed after use. The electronic scales will probably need to be moved to different locations to serve a number of different animal habitats. So they must be quite rugged. While these scales may be either bench scales, platform scales or even floor scales, they may need to be quite portable, and may therefore need to run from battery power.
It is often also necessary to weigh the individual animals for medical reasons. While human medication is often a standard (take 2 aspirin and call me in the morning), the weight of different individual animals of similar species may vary widely. Therefore the dosage of medication may be directly related to the weight of the animal.
Because of the different overall sizes and weights of different species, a wide range of veterinary scales may be required. Bench scales would be suitable for weighing smaller animals, such as birds, small reptiles, cats, and a wide variety of other small species. Animal scales for larger species may be platform scales that can weigh up to 1000 lb. Different size digital scales are suitable for different animals. Some standard size platforms include 20” x 27”, 22” x 44”, and even larger sizes up to 27” x 60”. Depending on the type of animal, specially sized animal scales up to 48” x 48” may also be fabricated.
Veterinary scales for even the largest animals, such as hippos and elephants, are available with capacities up toe 20,000 lb. Of course, these large floor scales have much larger platforms. They start at sizes of 4’ x 4’. Some other popular sizes are 4’ x 6’, 5’ x 7’, and 6’ x 8’. Again, even larger size floor scales may be specially fabricated, up to platform sizes of 8’ x 12’.
With all of the platform scales and large floor scales, one of the most important features is the ruggedness and durability of the digital scale. Perhaps the most critical components of the scale are the load cells that are attached to the scale platform. These devices convert the weight on the platform into an electrical signal that may be converted into a digital number to be shown on the electronic indicator. While many veterinary scales utilize aluminum load cells, they may be quite susceptible to damage from shock loading. This may easily occur when the scales are moved to different locations within the zoo. A much better choice for the load cell material is stainless steel. Not only is it much less likely to be damaged when the scale is handled, but it is also more resistant to moisture and corrosive fluids that animal scales are subjected to. A further advantage is that stainless steel is stronger than aluminum, so the load cells may be smaller. This allows the scale platform to offer a lower profile, making it easier for the animals to step up onto it. Some higher quality veterinary scales, such as those manufactured by Arlyn Scales, only use stainless steel load cells for all of their scales, including the bench scales, platform scales and large floor scales.
Depending on the type of animal being weighed, the material of the platform may also be important. Welded aluminum is an excellent choice, as it will not rust when exposed to water, and is quite light in weight. This makes it easier to move the scale. If the animal scale is meant to be used for weighing sea animals, such as seals, which live in a salt water environment, it is preferable to select a scale that is fabricated entirely from stainless steel.