Zoo takes stock of its animals

KEEPERS at Colchester Zoo are starting one of the biggest jobs of their year - counting each and every animal in their collection for the New Year stock take.

KEEPERS at Colchester Zoo are starting one of the biggest jobs of their year - counting each and every animal in their collection for the New Year stock take.

The hefty task is done every January as part of compliance with zoo legislation that requires zoos to confirm precise records of every animal birth, death, arrival and departure.

Although keepers are fully aware of how many animals they have in their care - especially large mammals such as lions, elephants, giraffes or rhinos - the annual “stock take” provides them with a valuable record, although numbers for some of the smaller creatures - like the zoo's leaf cutter ant colony - do have to be estimated.

The data will be submitted to the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), the national professional body offering advice and guidance on all aspects of zoo management and animal welfare.

BIAZA's director, Dr Miranda Stevenson, said: “It's important that zoos ensure their figures are correct so they can best manage conservation. Some of the species in captivity, such as Socorro doves, are now totally extinct in the wild.

“Therefore when zoos submit data to these central databases, it means that we can run detailed and scientifically-based breeding programmes to safeguard these valuable and threatened species.”

Most Read

The records will also be available for scrutiny by local authorities who issue and renew the licences for zoos and aquariums.

The inventory will also be passed on to an international database called the International Species Information System, which gathers details about animals held in zoological institutions around the world.