Zookeepers at ZSL London Zoo had their clipboards, calculators and cameras at the ready – as they prepared to count the animals at the Zoo’s annual stocktake.
Caring for more than 500 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 everything from a colony of inquisitive Humboldt penguins to Critically Endangered Asiatic lions and Bactrian camels.
2019 saw the arrival of many new animals at ZSL London Zoo: Elio the two-toed sloth and Star the tamandua were born in the Zoo’s Rainforest Life exhibit, six Humboldt penguin chicks hatched at Penguin Beach, while four Chinese giant salamanders and four big-headed turtles were given new homes at the Zoo after being rescued from the illegal wildlife trade - all of which will be added to the census.
For some zookeepers the task is relatively easy, but imaginative tactics are used by others to ensure every resident at the Zoo is accounted for - 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.
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