AS 2012 gets underway staff at Drusillas Park will once again commence the biggest job of the zoo calendar – counting each and every animal for the New Year stock take.
The keepers are fully aware of how many residents they have in their care but the annual stock take provides an opportunity to ensure that all the zoo records are up to date and accurate in compliance with zoo legislation.
The last 12 months have brought many notable breeding successes as well as some other new arrivals, including a brightly coloured group of rainbow lorikeets and a family of black and white colobus monkeys.
Last year also saw a baby boom at the Alfriston zoo with two fennec foxes, two capybara, a Sulawesi black crested macaque, a baby gibbon, two red-handed tamarins, four cotton-topped tamarins, a black lemur, three emperor tamarins, a Geoldis monkey, two silvery marmosets and a squirrel monkey all born in the zoo.
Each of these animals must have their own record card which holds details of parentage and other important information and during the annual stock take keepers will be taking particular care to ensure all of these records are up to date.
With approximately 1,000 individual animals made up of 109 different species, the keepers have their work cut out and the process can take several days.
Counting some of the smaller creatures also takes a great deal of patience and plenty of double-checking.
Zoo manager Sue Woodgate said, “I can go positively cross-eyed by the time I have counted some of our invertebrates, especially the hundreds of giant African land snails, Madagascan cockroaches and death’s head cockroaches at the park.
“Even counting our 35 rainbow lorikeets can be a challenge as they fly around the enclosure - I am sure they know I am trying to count them.”