8/20/2018 1:12 PM

Bowers Group Donates Calipers to Paignton Zoo for Crayfish Native Species Program

Water Resistant Digital Calipers Donated to Paignton Zoo for Crayfish Native Species Program 

Bowers Group has recently donated two sets of calipers to Paignton Zoo in Devon for measuring white-clawed crayfish. Keepers at Paignton Zoo already use the Moore & Wright plastic dial calipers to measure the growth and development of its spider tortoises, a Critically Endangered species native to Madagascar which has been successfully bred at the zoo for the first time in the UK.  


Water Resistant Digital Calipers

After Bowers Group’s generous donation, the zoo is now using Moore & Wright water resistant digital calipers to measure native crayfish. Dr Katy Upton, Senior Keeper, Lower Vertebrates & Invertebrates Department at Paignton Zoo said: “The digital calipers are perfect for our work with the native crayfish. We need to measure them regularly, and the water resistance is especially handy!”

Bowers Group Sales Director Stuart Millington said: “The caliper donation was a fantastic opportunity for us to support the native species programme at Paignton Zoo, and we are delighted that we were able to help.” 

Largest Freshwater Invertebrates in the UK

The Moore & Wright Water Resistant Digital Calipers used to measure the crayfish are water and dust resistant to IP54 specification, have a patented ceramic capacitive sensor, and facilitate 4-way measurement with a thumb wheel for fine adjustment. The Moore & Wright Plastic Dial Calipers are highly durable, as well as precise, accurate and perfect for repeatable measurement.

The dial calipers are perfect for the accurate measurements required by the zoo keepers, boasting an accuracy ± 0.1mm / ± 0.004" accuracy.The Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust, based at Paignton Zoo, has teamed up with Bristol Zoo Gardens to help the white-clawed crayfish; a native species under threat from its bolder American cousins. The white-clawed crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes) is the largest freshwater invertebrates in the UK, but is under threat of extinction in the wild because of the introduced American signal crayfish, which out-competes its British counterpart for food and can carry a killer plague.

Saving the White-Clawed Crayfish

The Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust UK Conservation Officer, Dr. Tracey Hamston, said: “We have a chance to save this species for Devon. The situation is urgent – if it becomes extinct in the county then another small piece of our natural heritage mosaic will be gone. This is a shy, reclusive species that few people know about – but it has an important role in the freshwater ecosystem because of what it eats and what in turn eats it. The species is also an important indicator of good water quality.

“There are only two rivers left in Devon where you can find this species in the wild. There are populations elsewhere in England and on the Continent, but it is in severe decline in many parts of its range.”

Unnoticed by the tens of thousands of visitors to Paignton Zoo, in a small building that previously stabled jungle cattle, stand two big vats. They hold about 1200 litres of fresh water and around 70 native British crayfish. Some twisted trail of zoo keeper humour has led to the tanks being named Fifty Shades of Cray and Cray David… 

The Culm Community Crayfish Project

Paignton Zoo previously trialled work on native crayfish with the Environment Agency and the charity Buglife, but this new phase has a greater capacity and the potential to breed. The Zoo, with partners Bristol Zoo and ecologist and crayfish specialist Nicky Green, is working with the Culm Community Crayfish Project.

These crayfish came from berried (egg bearing) females taken – temporarily – from a site on the River Culm in East Devon. The river has signal crayfish on it, though luckily there is no crayfish plague at present. The plan is to release the Zoo crayfish higher up the Culm catchment. The white clawed crayfish is protected by law and is recognised as Endangered by the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN).