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All present and correct? London Zoo starts annual stocktake of 19,000 animals

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While Noah had to count his animals into the ark two by two, zookeepers at London Zoo will be counting a little higher in their annual stocktake.

ZSL London Zoo is home to about 19,000 animals and 600 different species and every year the keepers dust off their clipboards and make sure everyone is present and correct.

Melati ensures she is present and correct on the stocktake
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Melati ensures she is present and correct on the stocktake
Sumatran tiger Jae Jae checks his enclosure's stocktake
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Sumatran tiger Jae Jae checks his enclosure’s stocktake

New animals at the zoo this year include Paco and Poco the tamanduas, born in the rainforest exhibit, 12 Humbolt penguin chicks which hatched at the zoo’s penguin beach, and rescued leeches Buffy, Angel and Spike.

Zuzana Matyasova counts the humboldt penguins
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Zuzana Matyasova counts the Humboldt penguins

Some of the zoo’s keepers will have an easy task, particularly if they only need to count a handful of animals, but others have to employ some creative tactics.

Veronica Heldt counts the pygmy goats
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Veronica Heldt counts the pygmy goats
One of the goats takes a look over Veronica Heldt's work
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One of the goats takes a look over Veronica Heldt’s work

The team looking after the bees have to cheat a little and count each colony as one bee rather than the hundreds of individual bees.

Jamie Mitchell observes the golden orb spiders at the spider walkthrough
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Jamie Mitchell observes the golden orb spiders at the spider walkthrough

ZSL’s animal operations manager Angela Ryan said: “With more than 19,000 animals to count at ZSL London Zoo, our keepers all have their own ways of tallying up the animals in their care – from taking pictures of the tanks in the aquarium to avoid counting the same fish twice, to using training and rewards to count larger groups such as our squirrel monkeys and Humboldt penguins.

Tony Cholerton counts the squirrel monkeys
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Tony Cholerton counts the squirrel monkeys

“It always makes for a busy start to the year.”

Dave Clarke with the flower beetles at the zoo
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Dave Clarke with the flower beetles at the zoo

The annual stocktake is part of the zoo’s requirement to retain its license and takes about a week to complete.

Mick Tiley counts the Bactrian camels and fights them off his clipboard
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Mick Tiley counts the Bactrian camels and fights them off his clipboard

The information is shared around the world with other zoos, and helps to manage the worldwide conservation breeding programme for endangered animals.

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