Taking stock at Whipsnade Zoo

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Whipsnade Zoo is kicking off the New Year with its annual stocktake – the mammoth task of counting every single animal at the zoo.

Home to more than 2,500 animals, the zoo’s keepers are dusting off their clipboards as they prepare to tot up each invertebrate, bird, fish, mammal, reptile and amphibian.

Everything from tiny insects to huge mammals will be lining up to be counted, including sea lions, donkeys, chimps and otters. 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.

2014 was a bumper year for babies at Whipsnade, including Luna the reticulated giraffe, Larry the hand-reared Thomson’s gazelle and Asian elephant Sam, born in September.

The compulsory count is required as part of Whipsnade Zoo’s zoo licence.

All of the information is logged into the International Species Information System.

It is then used to manage the international breeding programmes for endangered animals.