Annual animal 'census' at Bristol Zoo
By matt_2009 | Tuesday, January 08, 2013, 10:59
It has been a busy start to 2013 for the keepers at Bristol Zoo Gardens as they undertake one of the biggest and most important jobs of the year – counting all the animals in the Zoo.
Mark Bushell counting Polynesian tree snails.
The annual animal 'census' is done at the start of each year and includes stocktaking more than 400 species; from tiny insects, fish and birds, to seals, gorillas and monkeys.
There will be no surprises for the keeper counting the Zoo's seven giant tortoises, but the task becomes considerably harder for the keepers who have to count 19 playful and energetic meerkats, or dozens of penguins.
Nigel Simpson, the Curator of Birds, has the job of counting more than 68 different species.
Nigel said: "Bristol Zoo has 700 birds altogether spread across two sites. Tracking them and differentiating them is a real challenge, making the animal census a big job."
The mammal team has had some significant breeding successes this past year, particularly with the meerkats who have had three litters, a baby ring-tailed lemur, two fruit bats, a critically endangered golden lion tamarin, squirrel monkeys and a Brazilian tapir.
John Partridge, Senior Curator of Animals at Bristol Zoo Gardens said: "The last twelve months have been very successful in terms of animal births at the Zoo so the annual count is a big job again this year. However, it is an important task because it acts as an audit to check that our computer records are accurate. Our collection records are far more than a simple count – we know precise information on individual animals and groups, which we share with colleagues around the world to help manage our most important asset – the animals."