Animals go in two by two as Africa Alive takes annual stock check

Africa Alive education officer Alice Batts counts the Madagascan Hissing Cockroaches during the park

Africa Alive education officer Alice Batts counts the Madagascan Hissing Cockroaches during the parks annual stock take. Picture: NICK BUTCHER - Credit: Nick Butcher

A Suffolk zoo has set about the annual task of counting all its residents; both great and small.

Alice Batts with the African Pancake Tortoise . Picture: NICK BUTCHER

Alice Batts with the African Pancake Tortoise . Picture: NICK BUTCHER - Credit: Nick Butcher

Staff at Africa Alive have been doing their annual animal count, to tally up the number of creatures living in the park.

The task is by no means an easy feat as the zoo, which is based in Kessingland, has welcomed a large number of new residents in the past year.

From a bushbaby to a black-headed lamb, Africa Alive had a successful breeding year in 2017, which included the first baby aardvark to be successfully born at the park.

The special stock check is a legal requirement for the zoo with information about the animals in the park being sent to local authorities in order for the site to keep its license.

The lovebirds are counted during Africa Alive'ss annual animal count.
Picture: NICK BUTCHER

The lovebirds are counted during Africa Alive'ss annual animal count. Picture: NICK BUTCHER - Credit: Nick Butcher

“We know how many animals we have. We count them every day anyway but it’s just to get it all written down, on paperwork and sent off,” said lead qualified keeper Zoe Nunn.

This time of year is a quiet one for the zoo so the staff are able to make sure they get their numbers just right.

Africa Alive lead qualified keeper Zoe Nunn with a baby aardvark. Picture: NICK BUTCHER

Africa Alive lead qualified keeper Zoe Nunn with a baby aardvark. Picture: NICK BUTCHER - Credit: Nick Butcher

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“You couldn’t really do it when it’s really, really busy, so its quite nice that its a little bit quieter,” she added.

Some of the new youngsters born at the park in the past year have been from species that are classed as critically endangered such as the kafue flats lechwe, which is a type of antelope, and the drill money.

The giraffes help out lead qualified keeper Zoe Nunn. Picture: NICK BUTCHER

The giraffes help out lead qualified keeper Zoe Nunn. Picture: NICK BUTCHER - Credit: Nick Butcher

The stock check is also important for breeding programmes as it helps to keep the data collected by zoos accurate.

“They want to know how many animals we have got so that does help for breeding purposes,” said Ms Nunn.

The big count can prove easier for some keepers than others. Whilst visitors to the park would easily be able to count the number of lions some of the insect residents, like the Madagascan hissing cockroaches who number around 200, have proved to be a more difficult challenge.

“For the smaller animals, cockroaches and millipedes, you get a lot of them,” said Ms Nunn.

“With lions and giraffes it’s very easy to tell how many you’ve got a lot of them.”

Smaller animals and insects are often put in special containers during the count to make sure no-one is missed and no-one is counted twice.

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