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In pictures: Bristol Zoo takes its annual census

Staff at Bristol Zoo do this every January - and it takes more than a clipboard and pencil. Credit: ITV News

It's a census with a difference - scuba suits and aqualungs alongside the clipboards and pencils.

Yes, staff at Bristol Zoo are conducting their annual census. There are more than 400 species at the zoo and keepers say the population is growing because of successful breeding programmes. But counting the animals isn't always easy. With fish there is no avoiding it -you have to get wet.

Big tanks you can see we do get in those - it's a lot easier to count the animals that way because we can look in all the nooks and crannies.

We need to make sure our records tie up with what we've actually got on our displays. It's very difficult with small animals - we classify them as big groups.

We've got a lot of small fish in big tanks so it's more to do with the breeding. We have a lot of fry coming through that we might miss.

– JONNY RUDD, Aquarium curator, Bristol Zoo
This crab was easy to spot - it is much harder to keep track of other creatures in the aquarium Credit: ITV News
This pufferfish has just one eye after a cataract operation. Credit: ITV News
Some more concerned with eating fish than counting them... Credit: ITV News
Not everyone will stay awake for the big day. Credit: ITV News
The insects can only be estimated - would you enjoy trying to count each one of these? Credit: ITV News
Not a plant: counting coral is quite a challenge. Credit: ITV News

400 species will be counted in Bristol Zoo's animal census

Pygmy hippo Winnie is one of many animals born at Bristol Zoo this year Credit: ITV West Country

Keepers at Bristol Zoo will begin their annual census today. Over 400 species need to be counted.

The animal stock take is done at the start of every year and gives keepers the opportunity to check their computer records are up to date. Staff say 2014 has been a successful year for breeding - including the birth of pygmy hippo Winnie.


Bristol Zoo helps some penguins in a pickle

Some of the hundreds of penguin chicks being cared for at a rehabilitation centre in South Africa Credit: Francois Louw (SANCCOB)

Penguins are all the rage this Christmas, thanks to THAT TV advert but Bristol Zoo is drawing attention to the plight of penguins in Africa, which it warns are at risk of extinction.

The population of African penguins fell 70% between 2001 and 2013 and is continuing to decline.

This penguin chick is no soft toy but it certainly needs some loving care Credit: Francois Louw (SANCCOB)

Every winter, hundreds of African penguin chicks, who have been abandoned by their parents foraging for food, are rescued by a rehabilitation centre in South Africa, in a project led by the Bristol Zoological Society.

This year. the youngsters are coming into the centre in their hundreds from the colonies. The rehabilitation centre is already helping to care for 430 and this number continues to grow faster than expected.

With the price of fish soaring, an extra £20,000 is needed before Christmas to enable food and care to be provided for all the chicks.

P-p-p-pick up a penguin? Credit: Francois Louw (SANCCOB)

There are less than 18,000 breeding pairs left in the wild in South Africa. African penguins are an endangered species so every individual possible needs to be saved to increase numbers in the wild.

Unless conservation organisations intervene, these chicks will starve to death. As African penguin populations are currently facing a crisis due to a diminished food supply near their nesting colonies, there is a substantial risk that this species could eventually become extinct without action.

– Dr Christoph Schwitzer, Director of Conservation at Bristol Zoological Society

To find out more about the plight of the penguins, click here.


Meet Winnie the mini hippo at Bristol Zoo

Introducing Winnie the baby hippo Credit: ITV News West Country

Winnie the pygmy hippo was born at Bristol Zoo Gardens in February and has since enjoyed romping around her enclosure with her father Nato and mother Sirana - who is ferociously protective. Today she was allowed outside for the first time.

Fewer than 2,000 pygmy hippos survive in the wild.

Bristol Zoo's tortoise on the mend - after catching a cold!

A giant Tortoise at Bristol Zoo has been feeling a bit under the weather. That's because she's been diagnosed with a cold!

Helen being treated at the Zoo's clinic Credit: Bristol Zoo

Helen, who weighs 14 stone was checked into the Zoo's clinic after keepers found that she had the sniffles.

It was a tough job moving her, celery was also used as in incentive! Credit: Bristol Zoo

It took four men to lift the 32 year old Tortoise who's been at the Zoo for 11 years.

She was given a nasal flush and is now on the mend

She's now on the mend after a final checkup Credit: Bristol Zoo

Helen is an Aldabran giant tortoise – a species classified as ‘vulnerable’. Giant tortoises can live up to 150 years old.

Baby pygmy hippo born at Bristol Zoo

Bristol Zoo has unveiled its latest arrival - a baby pygmy hippo. Winnie is three weeks old and never far away from her mother Sirana, who is very protective of her.

Winnie's birth is a big success for the zoo's captive breeding programme - it's thought less than 2,000 of the animals survive in the wild.

Winnie, the baby pygmy hippo was born at Bristol Zoo. Credit: Bob Pitchford
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