Where would you start if you needed to count thousands of animals?
That’s the task facing staff at Banham Zoo, where zoo keepers and animal records keeper prepare to count the many species within their care.
The annual inventory is a requirement under the zoo licensing act and is submitted to the local authorities at the start of each year.
While some animals are easier to spot, such as cheetahs, education officers at Banham Zoo have the trickier job of counting about 1,000 Madagascar hissing cockroaches.
A spokesperson said: “Keepers aren’t just expected to clean out, feed and provide enrichment for a wide variety of animals from snails to rhinos, they also record information about the movements of animals between zoo collections and their health and behaviour.
“This information is used to not only ensure the animals are being looked after properly, but also to provide valuable data to the coordinators of managed breeding programmes.”
Keepers are assigned different sections within the zoo, and are in charge of the care of the animals within that section.
The animal records keeper creates inventories of how many animals of a particular species the zoo should have, according to the global database known as ZIMS (Zoologicial Information Management System).
The keepers then use these inventories and compare the amounts shown, with how many animals are actually in the enclosure and, as long as the animal records keeper and the keepers have done their job correctly, the numbers should be the same.
Notable new arrivals at Banham Zoo this year include a Grevy’s zebra, born in September, a Linne’s two-toed sloth which came from the Isle of Wight in April, while four male gelada baboons arrived from Edinburgh Zoo in June.
For more information on Banham Zoo, visit their website at www.banhamzoo.co.uk
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