London Zoo’s annual opportunity to share cute photos of zookeepers counting animals has come again, with their annual stocktake to make sure they have the same number of animals that are expected, no more, and hopefully, no less. It’s not that they expect a discrepancy, but they’re required to prove the numbers are correct each year as part of their license as a Zoo.

Keeper Hattie Sire counts the Humboldt penguins at the Annual Stocktake 2022 at ZSL London Zoo (c) ZSL

As a result, the keepers faced the task of tallying up every mammal, bird, reptile and invertebrate at the Zoo – counting everything from a colony of inquisitive Humboldt penguins to Critically Endangered Sumatran tigers.

For some zookeepers, imaginative tactics are used to ensure every resident at the Zoo is accounted for – the Tiny Giants team count ant colonies as one, instead of tracking hundreds of individual ants, while the aquarists take photographs of the moon jellyfish tank to help complete their count.

The Zoo welcomed many new arrivals during 2021, all of which will be recorded for the first time during the yearly stocktake.

Asiatic lioness Arya arrived from Paignton Zoo in April as a new mate for male Bhanu, while the Reptile House saw the hatch of three snappy big-headed turtles, whose parents were rescued from the illegal wildlife trade.

Rounding off the year, Sumatran tigress Gaysha gave birth to a tiny cub just before Christmas, bringing the tiger tally at ZSL London Zoo to three and boosting global breeding programme numbers for the Critically Endangered species.

Also featuring in the tally for the first time are three baby Eastern black and white colobus monkeys, born in the Gorilla Kingdom over the summer; the youngsters will join the rest of the troop in moving to the Zoo’s new Monkey Valley exhibit this year – ahead of its official opening this summer.

It’s all a good chance for some fun photos, but apart from retaining their license to operate as a Zoo, there’s wider reason for the annual audit, as the information is also shared with other zoos around the world via a database called ZIMS, where it’s used to help manage worldwide conservation breeding programmes for endangered species.

Keeper Sam Storey counts the Bolivian black-capped squirrel monkeys at the Annual Stocktake 2022 at ZSL London Zoo (c) ZSL

Keepers count fish in the Zoo’s Tiny Giants coral tank (c) ZSL London Zoo

Zookeeper Joe Capon counts the giant Galapagos tortoises at ZSL London Zoo (c) ZSL


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  1. Greg says:

    “the Tiny Giants team count ant colonies as one, instead of tracking hundreds of individual ants…”

    I was thinking that this must be awfully tough on the insect house until you posted this. Phew

  2. Jennifer says:

    What a delightful audit!

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