Why they’re counting the animals again at London Zoo

Hanuman langur playing with an abacus during London Zoo's annual stocktake. Credit: ZSL London Zoo

Almost 20,000 mammals, birds, reptiles and insects have been tallied up for London Zoo’s annual stocktake.

Keepers have counted two Sumatran tigers and 67 Humboldt penguins among the zoo’s 440 different species, in an audit that has taken place under lockdown.

The stocktake, which began on New Year's Eve, is a requirement of the zoo’s licence, with the information shared with other zoos around the world.

Several new arrivals have added to this year’s stock, including two otter pups born during England’s first lockdown.

An Okapi named Oni gave birth to a female calf, Ede, in September, part of the breeding programme for the endangered species.

Zookeeper Megan Winfield feeding Ede the okapi and mum Oni Credit: ZSL London Zoo

For some species, counting is an easy task, however for tricky subjects like ants, colonies are counted as one rather than tracking hundreds of individuals. The annual audit has taken keepers around a week to complete.

Zookeeper Paul Atkin counting the Humboldt penguins during the ZSL London Zoo annual stocktake Credit: ZSL London Zoo

Angela Ryan, ZSL London Zoo’s animal manager, said: ”ZSL London Zoo is home to more than 400 species, from endangered Asiatic lions to critically endangered Chinese giant salamanders.

“We’re working not only here in the zoo to increase their numbers and learn more about these amazing animals, but on conservation projects around the world too.

“We have to submit an updated number of animals each year as part of our zoo license, but we also share them with the international zoo community to inform our global conservation breeding work.”