ZSL Whipsnade Zoo kicked off the new year with its annual stocktake – the task of counting each of more than 2,500 animals at the zoo.

The zoo’s keepers dusted off their clipboards as they totted up each invertebrate, bird, fish, mammal, reptile, and amphibian.  

Everything from tiny insects to huge mammals was counted, including leaf insects, sea lions, miniature donkeys, giant Hercules beetles, and chimps.

Keepers have to be particularly cunning when it comes to counting the zoo’s multiple deer herds, which graze over a vast drive-through enclosure.  

Last year was a bumper year for births at Whipsnade, including Luna the reticulated giraffe, Larry a hand-reared Thomson’s gazelle and Asian elephant Sam, born in September.  

The compulsory count is required as part of ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s zoo license and the information is logged into the International Species Information System, where it’s used to manage the international breeding programmes for endangered animals.

Zoo keeper Graeme Williamson said: “Some animals are easier to count than others, but it’s always an exciting way to start the year, to count the thousands of incredible creatures that live here at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.”  

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