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Drusillas Count the Animals Two by Two

As 2016 gets underway staff at Drusillas Park, East Sussex will once again commence the biggest job of the zoo calendar - counting each and every animal for the New Year stock take.

The annual count 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 are fully aware of how many residents they have in their care. However, the annual stock take provides an opportunity to ensure that all the zoo records are up to date and accurate.

A lot has changed over the last twelve months at Drusillas, with a number of new additions to the park which all must be accounted for. Notable breeding successes have included the arrival of a critically endangered Sulawesi crested black macaque and a cheeky black lemur. The pitter patter of tiny paws was also heard at the emperor tamarins, kookaburras, flamingos, meerkats and squirrel monkeys.

In addition to this, there have also been several introductions. In July, the park welcomed two Bactrian camels, Roxy and Lofty, from Cotswold Wildlife Park as well as two spectacled owls and a Parma wallaby named Matilda. 2015 also saw the arrival of scarlet ibis and a group of rock hyrax.

Sadly the zoo also had a few departures including Tao the black and white ruffed lemur who was hand reared at the park back in 1999. Keepers also said a fond farewell to red panda Mya, who was rehomed to another collection to start his own family.

Each of these animals must have their own record card, holding details of parentage and other important information and the keepers will be taking particular care to ensure that everything is recorded correctly.

With approximately 1000 individual animals made up of over 100 different species, the process can take several days. Drusillas have an excellent track record and have been recognised many times for their high level of data accuracy. However, counting some of the smaller creatures takes a great deal of patience and plenty of double-checking.

Head Keeper Mark Kenward, who is overseeing the task, commented: “Throughout the year the number of animals we hold at the park changes all the time with new births (some of them twins, triplets or even quads) or animals moving on to new collections to form new breeding pairs and ever so occasionally, the passing of some of our older residents.”

“Drusillas’ annual count is a time when we can go through all the species we hold and check that all our records are correct or tie up any loose ends. Working with the animals so closely we know exactly who’s who and how many we have; this is simply a good exercise to ensure all the admin is accurate, enabling us to best manage the species for the future.”

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