198, 199...200! Zoo conducts count of all its animals
Roaring lions, swinging monkeys and excitable meerkats are all currently taking part in the ‘big count’ at Africa Alive!
When you have dozens of animals, it can be hard to keep track of them all.
But this Suffok zoo is keeping tabs on its numbers of giraffes, lemurs and more by sending staff out with an old-fashioned clipboard and pen to count how many creatures it has on its books.
Workers at Africa Alive! in Kessingland, near Lowestoft, carry out the count annually and describe it as one of their biggest jobs of the year.
The larger animals, such as the lions, are perhaps easier to keep tabs on - but with several similar-looking lemurs and cockroaches, it is a little trickier.
A spokesman from Africa Alive!, which began the count on January 1, said: “Although the count is undertaken at the start of each year, the keepers and the animal records keeper do have a good understanding of how many animals are in the park.
“The inventory is a chance for the keepers and the animal records keeper to check the numbers all tally, especially some of the larger groups of animals such as the Madagascan hissing cockroaches which Africa Alive! has almost 200 of.”
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The zoo has welcomed a large number of new animals into its park in the last 12 months, including a critically endangered black and white ruffed lemur called Lemony, a male Chapman’s zebra and two serval kittens.
“We also have had two Kafue Flats lechwe born this year,” the spokesman added. “This species is the second most aquatic of all antelopes and the IUCN Red List class them as endangered in the wild.”
The keepers work with the animals every day and record details about their health and behaviour on the zoological information management system database.
This is then accessible to zoos all over the world, so coordinators of captive breeding programs can analyse populations and make recommendations to zoos.
Colchester Zoo has also completed its annual big count.
It is currently home to 240 animals, made up of 72 mammals, 60 fish, 33 reptiles, 28 invertebrates and eight amphibians.
In 2018 the zoo’s successful breeding programmes meant they gained more than 11 animals.