Keepers kick off Zoo’s big count

Zookeepers at ZSL London Zoo readied their clipboards, calculators and cameras – as they began counting the animals at the Zoo’s annual stocktake.

Humboldt penguins are counted in the Annual Stocktake at ZSL London Zoo

Caring for more than 750 different species, ZSL’s keepers faced the challenging task of tallying up every mammal, bird, reptile, fish and invertebrate – counting every creature from penguins to partula snails.

While for some zookeepers the task is relatively easy, imaginative tactics are used by others to ensure every resident at the Zoo is accounted for - such as the B.U.G.S team, who cheat and count ant colonies as one, instead of tracking hundreds of individual ants.

Keeper Colette Gibbings cleverly took still images of the tank to total up the 130 jellyfish, while the Zoo’s 84 Humboldt penguins patiently lined up to be counted, with the promise of a fishy treat as a reward. 

An Asiatic lioness poses for the ZSL London Zoo Annual Stocktake

Meanwhile at London’s sister zoo, ZSL Whipsnade, keepers had no less of a mammoth task totalling up their more than 3500 animals: six colossal Southern white rhinos stood up to be counted, as well as 281 deer from across eight different species and over 60 species of birds, such as white-faced whistling ducks.

2017 saw the arrival of many new animals at ZSL London Zoo, from the Zoo’s first Hanuman langur baby born in its Land of the Lions exhibit to two giant anteaters. Eleven Humboldt penguin chicks hatched at Penguin Beach, while eight new Galapagos tortoises and two gibbons, Jimmy and Yoda, arrived at the Zoo - all of which will be added to the census. 

A requirement of both Zoos’ license, the annual audit takes keepers almost a week to complete and the information is shared with other zoos around the world via a database called Species360, where it’s used to help manage the worldwide conservation breeding programmes for endangered animals. 

With more than 19,000 animals to see, ZSL London Zoo is a fantastic day out for the whole family - this half-term, children can put their animal care skills to the test with the fascinating role-playing experience, Vets in Action.

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