Counting conundrum!

Keepers at Dudley Zoo and Castle are busy counting heads as part of the annual animal stocktake.

It’s the time of year when zoos throughout the country are legally required to tot up every invertebrate, bird, mammal, reptile and amphibian, but with more than 200 species at the Midlands-based attraction, it’s easier said than done, especially when you’re the keeper in charge of the leaf-cutter ants!

DZC Curator Richard Brown, said: “Totting up tigers and orangutans takes seconds, but our free-flying rainbow lorikeets and Egyptian fruit and Seba’s short-tailed bats make things interesting.

“Thankfully we don’t have to individually count the thousands of tiny leaf-cutter ants we have, which are one of the zoo’s newest species, as we can submit those results as one colony, otherwise we’d be here for a very long time tallying those results!”

Other new species being added to 2020’s inventory include Reggie, our Linne’s two-toed sloth, four Arctic foxes and vampire crabs.

A bumper 12 months of births will also boost DZC’s numbers, including a baby giraffe, three geladas and three critically endangered black-and-white ruffed lemurs.

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, said: “Our keepers know exactly how many of each species they work with on a day-to-day basis, so this is just really a confirmation exercise for us to check our yearly count tallies with the results, before we have to submit them to the local authority.”

Animals are identified through various methods including microchips, ear tags, body markings, flipper bands and foot rings.