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 Humboldt Penguin Colony are counted by Zookeeper Jessica Fryer at London Zoo stocktake

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.

Sumatran tiger Zac plays with stocktake tally at London Zoo

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.

London Zoo Chapman's zebras are counted by zookeeper Becca Keefe

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.

Giant Galapagos tortoises are counted at London Zoo by zookeeper Kim Carter

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.  

Sam Aberdeen adds Seychelles Millipedes to London Zoo stocktake

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. 

Conservation at the Zoo

  • Mountain chicken frog
    Fighting back against a deadly fungus

    Frog conservation at London Zoo 

    Our scientists helped uncover a deadly fungus which is putting amphibians across the world at risk. Today we are researching possible routes to recovery.

  • Sumatran tiger cub Crispin in Tiger Territory habitat at London Zoo
    Protecting species

    London Zoo conservation breeding

    How we apply our expert knowledge gained from working with animals at the Zoo to make a global conservation impact.

  • Chinese giant salamander being held during a health check at London Zoo
    Andrias davidianus

    Chinese giant salamander

    Chinese giant salamanders are the world's biggest amphibian, at full size they are around the size of a fully grown man at 1.8m in length.  

  • Socorro dove with first clutch chicks in its nest at London Zoo
    14 September 2021

    Four Extinct-in-the-Wild Socorro doves hatch at London Zoo

    Zookeepers are celebrating the hatching of four Extinct-in-the-Wild Socorro doves at London Zoo - part of a vital collaborative breeding programme formed between 36 zoos worldwide, to keep the species from being lost forever.

  • Waldrapp ibis
    Releasing into the wild

    Waldrapp ibis reintroduction

    Endangered birds bred at the Zoo released into the wild as part of an international conservation project to reintroduce a species that once spanned Europe.

  • Two African wild dog puppies in the sunshine
    22 August 2023

    Supporting African wild dog conservation

    How our African wild dog pack is supporting species’ survival.

  • Bhanu has his ear cleaned at London Zoo
    World leading healthcare

    Endangered Asiatic lion gets his ears cleaned at London Zoo

    An endangered lion with earache has been given the VIP treatment by vets at London Zoo, who called on specialists from across the country to help clean out the 174kg feline’s ears. 

  • Conservation