Keepers get counting for annual week-long London Zoo stocktake

A tiger cub, a lion and a sloth are among the new animals to join the 400 species at the zoo, each of which has to be tallied by staff.

An Asiatic lion during the annual stocktake at ZSL London Zoo
An Asiatic lion during the annual stocktake at ZSL London Zoo

A newborn Sumatran tiger cub, an Asiatic lion and a young sloth were among the newcomers being counted by London Zoo staff during their annual stocktake.

Keepers were out in force on Tuesday, clutching their clipboards and cameras, as they worked together to tally the animals among the more than 400 species at the Regent’s Park attraction.

Dan Simmonds, head zookeeper, told the PA news agency: “Today’s a special day because we’ve just come through Christmas and it’s a nice time for the keepers to go and do that daily check on their animals and get their clipboards out and just count all the animals.”

The annual stocktake, which lasts around a week, is a condition of the zoo’s licence – although in reality numbers are something staff keep track of throughout the year.

And while counting up the larger animals is a relatively simple task, there are challenges associated with some of the zoo’s smaller creatures.

“It can be really tough if it’s a little squirrel monkey that is bouncing around and we’ve got sort of 14, 15 of them,” Mr Simmonds said.

“The keepers do an amazing job, they work with them day in, day out, they can identify all of them as they can all of the penguins, all of the bigger groups of animals.

A zoo keeper counts Humboldt penguins during the annual stocktake at ZSL London
Keepers are able to identify each individual penguin (Aaron Chown/PA)

“It can be challenging, but the keepers are really well trained, it’s part of their job to do that, so one way or another they’ll always make sure they count the animals.”

Among the animals new to the count in 2022 are Arya, an Asiatic lioness who arrived from Paignton Zoo in April, as well as baby sloth Terry, who was born to Marilyn in October.

Keepers were also able to count a new addition among the tigers.

Keeper Mick Tiley with Bactrian camels during the annual stocktake at ZSL London Zoo
The annual stocktake is a condition of the zoo’s licence (Aaron Chown/PA)

Mr Simmonds said: “Up until recently the keepers were counting just two tigers, but today they’re counting three because we’ve got a little cub.

“So we’re really excited.”

The cub, who has not yet been sexed, was born to Sumatran tigress Gaysha just before Christmas.

Not every animal is counted individually – for example, an ant colony counts as one, so keepers do not have to tally up every single insect.

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