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Counting the Animals Two by Two!

Drusillas Park’s annual New Year stock take got underway today as staff at the Park commenced the mammoth task of counting each and every animal in the zoo’s collection.

The annual count is one of the biggest jobs in the zoo calendar and is undertaken by keepers around the country at this time of year. It is completed as part of compliance with zoo legislation, which requires zoos and aquariums to keep precise records of every animal birth, death, arrival and departure.

Of course, the keepers at Drusillas are fully aware of how many animals they have in their care, especially the larger species such as the penguins, lemurs and otters. However, the annual stock take provides an opportunity to ensure that all the records are up to date and reflect accurately the number of residents at the zoo. 

There have been a lot of new arrivals over the last twelve months that need to be accounted for including two golden lion tamarins. 2012 also saw a baby boom with a baby black lemur, colobus monkey, squirrel monkeys, prairie dogs, fennec foxes, a flamingo chick, penguins, tamarins and marmosets all born at the zoo. Each of these animals must have their own record card, holding details of parentage and other important information. 

With approximately 1000 individual animals made up of 138 different species, the keepers have their work cut out and the process can take several days. Counting some of the smaller creatures also takes a great deal of patience and plenty of double-checking! 

Zoo Manager, Sue Woodgate commented: “I really enjoy this annual task. I love being away from my desk and out in the Park with the animals. I must admit though I do go cross eyed when I start counting our cockroaches; there are 100s of them and three full tanks to count!”

Once completed, this information is submitted to a central database and used by organisations such as the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) to manage conservation. The inventories are also available to local authorities who issue and renew the licences for zoos and aquariums. 

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