Whipsnade Zoo’s keepers began the mammoth task of counting every animal for their annual stocktake today (Thursday).
Home to more than 9,500 animals, zookeepers at the UK’s largest zoo gathered their clipboards and calculators, to take stock of each invertebrate, bird, fish, mammal, reptile and amphibian.
Keepers have to count every single animal in the zoo; from three, boisterous, Amur tiger brothers, to hundreds of fragile butterflies.
The zoo’s group (also known as a ‘conspiracy’) of ring-tailed lemurs were curious about the activity, while its ‘waddle’ of penguins happily got in line to be counted in exchange for their favourite fishy treats.
2021 saw the conservation zoo celebrate the birth of rhinoceros calf Nandi, who was counted alongside her “crash” of Southern white rhinos.
Several, recently-hatched, baby chameleons, had to be added to the zoo’s official records, as well as hundreds of Critically Endangered and Extinct-in-the-Wild freshwater fish, bred at the zoo’s aquarium and freshwater conservation breeding centre.
ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s animal manager, Matthew Webb, said: “Today marks the start of the annual stocktake, where we make sure every animal is recorded as part of our official zoo license requirements.
“We’ll also share the information with other zoos around the world, as the numbers are used to plan the conservation breeding programmes for endangered species.
“Some species are easy to count, but others can be tricky: our Aquarium keepers sometimes take still images of the tanks so they don’t count the same fish twice, while our almost 200 deer have to be counted with a lot of stealth and a lot of patience!”
The information is shared with other zoos around the world via a database called ZIMS (Zoological Information Management System), where it’s used to help manage the worldwide conservation breeding programmes for endangered animals.