Zookeepers at ZSL London Zoo were ready with their clipboards, calculators and cameras this morning as they prepared to welcome in 2017 with the Zoo’s annual stocktake.
Caring for more than 712 different species, ZSL London Zoo’s keepers faced the challenging task of tallying up every mammal, bird, reptile, fish and invertebrate at the Zoo – counting every creature from tigers to partula snails.
2016 saw the arrival of many new animals at ZSL London Zoo, from the Zoo’s first ever aye-aye baby Malcolm, to a pair of Sumatran tiger cubs called Achilles and Karis. Four Humboldt penguin chicks hatched at Penguin Beach, while a new baby colobus monkey, a mangabey and a Sulawesi crested macaque joined the Zoo’s primate families - all of which will be added to the 2017 census.
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. Aquarium keepers take photos of the tanks and use still images to avoid counting the same fish twice, while the B.U.G.S team cheat and count ant colonies as one, instead of tracking hundreds of individual ants.
A requirement of ZSL London Zoo’s 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.