It’s time to count heads at Dudley Zoological Gardens as clipboard and calculator-carrying keepers begin the annual animal census.
Staff will be totting up every invertebrate, bird, mammal, reptile and amphibian across the 40-acre site as part of the licensing requirements of all UK zoos and wildlife parks, but with more than 1,500 (1,579) animals that’s easier said then done!
The week long task is overseen by DZG’s Registrar and Research Co-ordinator, Dr David Beeston, who records the collected data into the Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS) a worldwide comprehensive database of animal health and well-being.
Dr Beeston, pictured above, said: “Keepers work with our animals daily and know how many of each species there are on a day-to-day basis, so this is just really a confirmation exercise for us to check our yearly inventory tallies with the results, before we submit them to the local authority.”
But counting up the site’s one Asiatic black bear, two Sumatran tigers or three Asiatic lions poses less of a challenge than those keepers who have to keep check of 75 identical Humboldt penguins or 71 fast-flying Egyptian fruit and Seba’s short-tailed bats.
Dr Beeston, added: “We have quite a few different things on the inventory this year because of the new Castle Creatures exhibit, which includes bats, black rats and leeches, so they will certainly make counting interesting.”
Animals are identified through various methods including microchips, ear tags, body markings, flipper bands and foot rings.