Counting creatures big and small at zoo
Tuesday 11 January 2011
Clipboards to hand, keepers at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo have been counting the animals two by two in their annual New Year stocktake.
All keepers take part in this huge exercise, taking a head count of more than 200 different species at Whipsnade. This year’s count includes feathery and furry babies – including two ostrich chicks and a rockhopper penguin plus five cheetah cubs.
Added to that, are some newcomers of the larger variety – elephant calf George who was born in April and the beautiful zebra calf and two Asian rhino calves, all born in 2010.
During the stocktake every single animal is counted – right down to the shoals of fish and tiny ants in the Discovery Centre who are added up in groups, rather than individually! Whilst useful for the zoo, the stocktake is also an essential procedure as it is a compulsory requirement of obtaining the zoo licence.
This year’s stocktake begins ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s 80th anniversary year and the number of animals in the zoo is one of many changes over the years.
When the zoo first opened in May 1931 it had eight animals: two Amherst pheasants, a golden pheasant and five red jungle fowl. Today’s collection is likely to number more than four thousand!