January is an exceptionally busy time for our keepers as it brings around the big annual animal census; a stocktake of all the animals that we look after at the Zoo. With over 2,200 animals from 174 different species to be accounted for, it is the job of our Head Keeper Sam to count every lion, penguin, bird and frog that we have on site.

Sam’s first duty is to check all our mammals; being the largest they are usually the easiest. We have precisely 205 mammals on site. This group includes some of our larger animals, but this is not the largest collection.

After the mammals Sam will move through the birds before closing the census by counting our amphibians. This is no easy task, with over 1,300 amphibians and invertebrates living on site, and is made even more difficult by their expert ability to hide!

A general total of animals is updated throughout the year on the international animal cataloguing computer system, ZIMS. But the animal census is an important part of the Zoo license system and also allows us to track our contribution to breeding programmes all over the world.

The annual census, despite being a rather lengthy process, gives our keeping team a chance to look back at the special births and arrivals that we have had over the past year, including births such as Eurasian lynx Tink, white throated capuchin Benito and our latest arrival, the yet-to-be-named Philippine spotted deer fawn.
The census can take up to 4 or 5 days to complete. Head Keeper Sam comments ‘I love completing the animal census, our keepers are very good at logging a lot of our animals so really it’s just a case of checking we’re up to date. It’s nice for us as a department to reflect on the year that we’ve had and it often leads to conversations about what we think might breed in the coming year. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!’

Learn more about some of the animals at the Zoo by heading over to our Animal A-Z. 

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