Zoo keepers take stock
Published: 23rd Dec 2014Zoo keepers are taking on the mammoth task of counting each and every animal in their collections for a New Year stock-take. Collections keep detailed records of every animal birth, death, arrival and departure. The annual headcount is completed each January as a requirement of zoo licencing.
Staff at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park in Devon have around 2,000 heads to count, including around 375 mammals of 70 different species, nearly 1,000 birds of around 150 species, over 200 reptiles (50 species) and 250 amphibians (30 species).
Top zoos keep track of the animals in their care using a software programme developed and produced by the International Species Information System (ISIS). ZIMS – the Zoological Information Management System – replaced three other systems, bringing together collection information, studbook data for individual species and veterinary records.
Paignton Zoo spokesperson Phil Knowling said: “Some keepers have their work cut out at this time of year. It’s easier to count our two black rhinos than it is to add up the hundreds of tiny frogs!”
Staff at Living Coasts have to tot up everything from large seals to tiny fish. At the last count Torquay’s coastal zoo had nearly 400 individuals of 22 species. Exhibit manager Clare Rugg said: “The penguins are hard to count – there are lots of them and they keep moving!”
Paignton Zoo Curator of Birds Jo Gregson said: “For the difficult species, like the various ducks on the main lake, we get as many keepers out in the grounds as possible and count at the same time. We count on several occasions during December so that we have an accurate grand total come January.”
The information collected goes to the USA to be combined with figures from other top collections. Paignton Zoo Environmental Park is a registered charity.