Animals counted two-by-two at Colchester Zoo
- Credit: COLCHESTER ZOO
Colchester Zoo staff are in the midst of their annual animal count - making sure their herd of elephant, colony of penguin and flamboyance of flamingoes are all accounted for.
With more than 1,000 individual animals, as well as colonies of fish and insects that are counted as groups, the keepers at the zoo need a week to accurately count the number of creatures they are looking after.
And this year the Essex zoo have a number of new additions to include in their records following the birth of Amur tiger cubs, Amur leopard cubs, red panda cubs, an aardvark baby and various new primates.
They are expected to finish their count today.
A spokesman said: "Following the countdown to Christmas the team at Colchester Zoo is counting up its residents.
"The task of counting the animals may seem an easy one but every mammal, bird, fish and reptile has to be counted - for our elephant care team this is an easy task, however for others it can be more of a challenge.
"It would be impossible to count some residents such as all of our butterflies, birds and fish so the larger groups are submitted as one colony rather than individual numbers - trying to make sure you don't count the same fish twice in an aquarium of tropical fish or the same bird twice in a flock of flying birds would be quite a tricky task."
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One species of bird that is counted individually is the rainbow lorikeet.
The zoo has 52 of these birds, so keepers have trained them to respond to the sound of a bell. When the bell is rung, they fly into their aviary, which allows keepers to count them one by one as they enter.
Colchester Zoo is legally required to carry out an audit of the number of animals they care for to maintain their zoo license.
So far the zoo has counted 70 species of mammals, 60 species of fish, 24 species of birds, 28 types of invertebrates and eight species of amphibians.
All the data collected by the zoo, along with many other zoos, is sent to a central database and the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA).