Zookeepers take stock of all their bugs, birds and beasts
Armed with clipboards, calculators and cameras, zookeepers set about tallying up every mammal, bird, reptile, fish and invertebrate at the zoo.
While some keepers have a relatively easy task, imaginative tactics are used by others to ensure every resident is accounted for.
Aquarium keepers take photos of the tanks and use still images to avoid counting the same fish twice, while the BUGS (Biodiversity Underpinning Global Survival) team ‘cheat’ and count ant colonies as one, instead of tracking hundreds of individual ants.
Keeper Sam Aberdeen had the time-consuming job of counting 2,132 Partula snails – part of an important international breeding and reintroduction programme for the species – while Mick Tiley had to contend with some very nosey camels.
The annual audit takes keepers almost a week to complete and last year involved counting 18,430 creatures belonging to 712 different species.
The count is a requirement of London Zoo’s license, as it is for all other zoos in the UK, but is also used to help manage global conservation breeding programmes for endangered animals.
This year’s London Zoo inventory will include the many new arrivals during 2016, including the zoo’s first ever aye-aye baby Malcolm, a pair of Sumatran tiger cubs called Achilles and Karis, and four Humboldt penguin chicks.
A colobus monkey, a mangabey and a Sulawesi crested macaque also joined the zoo’s primate families last year.