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One, two, three... start again! Animal count a tricky task for zoo staff

PUBLISHED: 18:54 10 January 2020 | UPDATED: 18:54 10 January 2020

Every year Banham Zoo have to count their animals, from every single bug to their tigers. Deboarah Harris Team Leader of hooves counting. Pictures: Brittany Woodman

Every year Banham Zoo have to count their animals, from every single bug to their tigers. Deboarah Harris Team Leader of hooves counting. Pictures: Brittany Woodman

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Carrying out a stock check is normally a routine task in many businesses.

Every year Banham Zoo have to count their animals, from every single bug to their tigers. Deboarah Harris Team Leader of hooves counting. Pictures: Brittany WoodmanEvery year Banham Zoo have to count their animals, from every single bug to their tigers. Deboarah Harris Team Leader of hooves counting. Pictures: Brittany Woodman

But when your stock runs, climbs, jumps and flies it can become rather more complicated.

Staff at Banham Zoo, near Diss, have started the new year by counting and recording every single animal at the attraction.

The keepers face this mammoth annual task for zoo licensing requirements and also to assist with the many co-ordinated animal breeding programmes the zoo is involved with.

To enable these vital conservation breeding programmes to work successfully, the co-ordinators need to know what each participating zoo has on site at the end of each year.

Every year Banham Zoo have to count their animals, from every single bug to their tigers. Deboarah Harris Team Leader of hooves counting. Pictures: Brittany WoodmanEvery year Banham Zoo have to count their animals, from every single bug to their tigers. Deboarah Harris Team Leader of hooves counting. Pictures: Brittany Woodman

There are 104 animal species across both Banham Zoo and Africa Alive!, in Kessingland, where the count has also been taking place.

They are part of vital European and international breeding programmes, so this stock take is vital.

With the looming deadline for Brexit approaching as well, the movement of animals between UK zoos and zoos throughout the rest of the world as part of these critical conservation programmes could be affected, so the correct animal numbers for the co-ordinators has never been more important.

"Although all the animal species at the zoos are regularly counted and checked, this is not usually done all at once, so it's a busy time for our keepers to make sure they get it right," explains David Field, chief executive of the Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA), which runs both the zoos.

Every year Banham Zoo have to count their animals, from every single bug to their tigers. Deboarah Harris Team Leader of hooves counting. Pictures: Brittany WoodmanEvery year Banham Zoo have to count their animals, from every single bug to their tigers. Deboarah Harris Team Leader of hooves counting. Pictures: Brittany Woodman

"Some animals understandably are easier to count than others, such as our lions at Africa Alive!, and others make it very tricky, such as the black-cheeked lovebirds at Africa Alive! who are very active and move around a lot.

"Then there are the more elusive animals such as our sloths Santos and Vlo at Banham Zoo, who are often hiding out in thick foliage so it's hard to find them, never mind count them. Come out Santos, wherever you are!"

Last year was a busy time full of births, such as the red panda cub at Banham Zoo and a drill baby at Africa Alive!, visits from royalty and events such as Africa Alive! By Night and Banham Zoo's The Snowman and The Snowdog Bricklive Tour.

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