It’s that time of year again when staff at Drusillas Park, Alfriston commence the biggest job of the zoo calendar - counting each and every animal for the New Year stock take.
The annual count is one of the biggest jobs in the diary and is undertaken by keepers around the country at this time of year. It is completed as part of compliance with zoo legislation, which requires zoos and aquariums to keep precise records of every animal birth, death, arrival and departure.
A lot has changed at Drusillas over the last twelve months with new additions such as Flash the baby sloth and Ninja the serval; all must be accounted for. Sadly there have also been some departures including Porker the kune kune pig, famous for making predictions.
Of course, the keepers at Drusillas are fully aware of how many animals they have in their care, especially the larger species such as the penguins, lemurs and camels. However, the annual stock take provides an opportunity to ensure that all their records are up to date and reflect accurately the number of residents at the zoo.
Deputy Zoo Section Leader, Katherine Gibson will be overseeing the task this year for the first time and certainly has her work cut out. With approximately 1000 individual animals made up of over 100 different species the process can take several days. Plus counting some of the smaller creatures also takes a great deal of patience and plenty of double-checking.
Each of the animals must have their own record card, holding details of parentage and other important information and Katherine will be taking particular care to ensure all their details have been recorded correctly.
Once completed, this information is submitted to a central database and used by organisations such as the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) to manage conservation. The inventories are also available to local authorities who issue and renew the licences for zoos and aquariums.
Katherine commented, “Of course we do know what animals we have in our care at all times but the annual stock take is a chance for us to ensure that all our records are up to date. There’s an awful lot to do and it can be very time consuming but I am really enjoying it. It makes a nice change from my usual day-to-day role at the Park.”