It’s a stock take with a difference.
Zoo keepers at Banham Zoo began the unenviable task of counting every specimen for the annual animal census at the start of January.
Lauren Attride, animal records keeper at the south Norfolk zoo, said more than 120 species of animal have been counted. This year’s total number of animals is estimated at being close to 3,000 - including 1,500 cockroaches.
“It’s been great. It’s gone smoothly and we haven’t had too many big surprises,” she said. “All the keepers get involved to be honest.
“They are the ones that know their animals, so they double check on the numbers .and I am the one in charge, co-ordinating it all, and nagging for the numbers and compiling it all together.”
Mike Woolham, animal manager at the zoo added the birth of two Siberian tiger cubs in June were the ‘most important’ additions the zoo had seen this year.
“Siberian tigers are incredibly endangered, less than 400 left in the wild, so obviously we are incredibly chuffed to have bred those this year,” he said.
“We know equally for our breeding program that our male is a very important male because he does not have a huge number of relatives in the program.
He added: “It (the stock take) is probably not as physical a process as you think. Obviously the animals we have here are wild animals, they are not tame, so they won’t necessarily take too kindly to being grabbed hold of and checked.
“There are all sorts of subtle ways that keepers have to check the animals. Feeding time is always a great one.”
The annual inventory, a requirement under the Zoo Licensing Act, is submitted to local authorities at the start of the year.
The census is needed to ensure computer records are a true and accurate reflection of the diverse number of species held at the zoo, with new species having arrived, departed and been born, while others have died since last year’s effort.
Results are recorded in the Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS), used in zoos around the world.
The relatively new ZIMS system, launched in 2010, records information about animals which can be shared with other zoos worldwide,
The collected information advises where best to send animals bred at the zoo, and which animals should breed this year.