New Year animal count at Drusillas

Deputy Zoo Section Leader Katherine Gibson with the lorikeets
Deputy Zoo Section Leader Katherine Gibson with the lorikeets

Flash the baby sloth and Ninja the serval are among the furry new arrivals that will be counted at Drusillas Park in its New Year stock take.

The biggest job of the zoo calender, the annual count is undertaken by keepers around the country at this time of year, to keep precise records of every animal, birth, death, arrival and departure.

Sadly, alongside the new arrivals, there have also been some departures including Porker the kune kune pig, famous for making predictions.

The keepers at Drusillas are aware of how many animals they have in their care, especially the larger species such as the penguins, lemurs and camels.

However, the annual stock take provides an opportunity to ensure that all their records are up to date and reflect accurately the number of residents at the zoo.

Deputy Zoo Section Leader, Katherine Gibson will be overseeing the task this year for the first time and certainly has her work cut out.

With approximately 1,000 individual animals, made up of more than 100 different species, the process can take several days.

In particular, counting some of the smaller creatures takes a great deal of patience and plenty of double-checking.

Each of the animals must have their own record card, holding details of parentage and other important information, and Katherine will be taking particular care to ensure all their details have been recorded correctly.

Once completed, this information is submitted to a central database and used by organisations such as the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) to manage conservation.

The inventories are also available to local authorities who issue and renew the licences for zoos and aquariums.

Katherine said, “Of course we do know what animals we have in our care at all times but the annual stock take is a chance for us to ensure that all our records are up to date.

“There’s an awful lot to do and it can be very time consuming but I am really enjoying it. It makes a nice change from my usual day-to-day role at the Park.”

Located just off the A27 in Alfriston, Drusillas Park is open daily from 10am. For more information, call 01323 874100 or visit www.drusillas.co.uk