London Zoo begins the big task of counting every animal in the annual stocktake

ITV News London's Anna Geary reports

The annual stocktake is underway at London Zoo, where keepers are counting the 300 different species that live at the site in Regent's Park.

For some species, counting is an easy task. Ants are counted in colonies rather than counting each individually. Whereas counting the 74 Humboldt penguins is a little more difficult.

Zoo keeper counting swimming penguins

Jessica Fryer is one of the Zoo keepers who has the job of counting the penguins.

She told us: "The easiest way to count them is when they are having their breakfast. We have a tick sheet, which we tick off every time we see our penguins.

"However, it can be quite difficult as there are always some who are swimming in the pool.

"They all have their own wing band which has different colour beads on them. So from a distance, we can pick them out."

The stocktake is important because of the number of new arrivals each year - in 2023, a two-toed sloth gave birth and 17 chicks hatched in the tropical birdhouse.

Tiger chilling the with the stocktake board

Dan Simmonds, operations manager of the Zoological Society of London said: "The annual count takes quite a few days.

"The Zoo keepers are very busy. We count the animals every single day. This formal process of looking at every single animal does take some time."

He added: "The information is incredibly important. It all gets shared onto an international database and Zoo's from around the world are able to use that information.

"To make sure international breeding programmes are managed correctly. To know which animal lives where and we can see genetic diversity.

"It's a really important time of year for us."

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