3 January 2024
Counting animals at the Zoo
One, zoo, three, four…zookeepers at London Zoo have started the New Year with the annual stocktake, a mammoth task which involves tallying up every furred, feathered and scaled creature in our care.
We're home to more than 300 different species, from Endangered Galapagos giant tortoises and Asiatic lions to Critically Endangered Chinese giant salamanders and Sumatran tigers - all of which are logged and recorded as part of our Zoo annual license requirement.
London Zoo's tiger cubs
Crispin and Zac, our two boisterous Sumatran tiger cubs quickly turned the ‘register’ in their enclosure into a toy, dragging it away to gnaw on, while the colony of 74 Humboldt penguins patiently lined up to be counted by zookeeper Jessica Fryer.
Chapman’s zebras, Kabibi, Kianga and Spot were added to the tally by zookeeper Becca Keefe, and Kim Carter ticked off Galapagos Giant tortoises Priscilla, Polly and Dolly. Sam Aberdeen made sure the our population of endangered Seychelles giant millipedes were all accounted for, a species under threat in the wild due to climate change and the introduction of invasive species.
Why an annual animal stocktake?
Our Zoological Operations Manager Daniel Simmonds told us: “The annual stocktake marks the time of year when we conduct a complete headcount of the 300 species being cared for here at London Zoo – many of which are threatened in the wild.
“It’ll take us a few days to complete the full tally, which in total is about 14,000 animals, and the information from the count will then be shared via a global database with zoos and conservationists around the world, which helps us to manage the crucial breeding programmes for these species.
We're a part of ZSL, a science-driven conservation charity, working to protect and restore wildlife in the UK and around the world. Providing a home to species which are extinct in the wild, including tropical tree snails and rare doves, we contribute to the conservation of these and hundreds of other threatened species through veterinary research, world-leading animal care expertise and conservation breeding programmes.
2023 saw Marilyn the two-toed sloth give birth to a young female in the humid Rainforest Life habitat, while an impressive 17 chicks hatched in the Zoo’s tropical birdhouse in August, including six Socorro dove chicks, which represent a huge boost to the numbers of this Extinct in the Wild species.
We'll be opening the doors to a brand new reptile and amphibian habitat in 2024, and some of the fascinating inhabitants are already making themselves at home – including 13 critically endangered mountain chicken frogs and one critically endangered Philippine crocodile. The Secret Life of Reptiles and Amphibians will immerse visitors in the mysterious world of animals such as frogs, toads, newts and be a hub for our conservation research and efforts to protect and preserve threatened species and inspire conservationists of tomorrow.
A requirement of our Zoo license, information gleaned from the annual count is also shared with zoos around the world via a database called Species360, where it’s used to help manage the worldwide conservation breeding programmes for endangered animals.