Numbers game as Dudley Zoo's annual stocktake begins

One giant anteater, two Sumatran tigers, three giraffes, four Giant African spurred tortoise, five Colombian spider monkeys. The painstaking process of counting every single animal at one of the Black Country's top attractions is underway for another year.

Assistant Curator Jay Haywood counts the meerkat mob
Assistant Curator Jay Haywood counts the meerkat mob

All the animals at Dudley Zoo and Castle need to be counted during the annual stocktake.

At the start of every year, all zoos in the country have to legally tot up every invertebrate, bird, mammal, reptile and amphibian living on their sites – which can be an easier task for some keepers than others.

Critically endangered Colombian black spider monkey, baby Nina – attached to mum, Evita’s stomach - is being counted for the first time

And for the first time, the week-long count is being overseen by Dudley Zoo and Castle's registrar Nicola Wright, who will collate and input all the collected data into the Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS) – a worldwide comprehensive database of animal health and wellbeing – before submitting a full report to the local authority.

Ms Wright, said: “We have more than 1,600 animals on site, including more than 500 mammals, 300 birds and 600 invertebrates.

“Keepers all know how many animals they care for on a daily basis, but we have to officially confirm it in our yearly inventory, so the census is really just a confirmation exercise as part of the zoo licensing.

Staff begin counting the birds in the zoo's Lorikeet Lookout

“This year we do have a number of new arrivals being counted by Dudley Zoo and Castle for the first time from births on site or animals being brought in from other collections including a Colombian black spider monkey, six Barbary sheep, an Asian palm civet, two Six banded Armadillos, a Victoria crowned pigeon and eight poison dart frogs.”

Animals are identified through various methods including microchips, ear tags, body markings, flipper bands and foot rings which correspond to their individual ZIMS records.

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