At the start of each year keepers and the Animal Records Keeper at Africa Alive! have one of the biggest jobs on the calendar, counting all of the residents at the park, from the tiniest of insects to the tallest giraffe, everything has to be accurately counted which is by no means an easy task.
This year the keepers got an extra pair of hands to help them via a Facebook competition on the parks page, the winner Tegan Brown was selected to join them at the start of the count on New Year’s day..The annual inventory is a requirement under the zoo licensing act and is submitted to the local authorities at the start of each year.
This year we have had some notable births to celebrate. A black and white ruffed lemur was born in June and has been named Lemony. The IUCN Red List classes this species as critically endangered in the wild.
A male Chapman’s zebra joined the herd in July. We have had two Kafue Flats lechwe born this year. This species is the second most aquatic of all antelopes and the IUCN Red List class them as endangered in the wild.
Although the count is undertaken at the start of each year, the keepers and the Animal Records Keeper do have a good understanding of how many animals are in the park (it is quite easy to count the magnificent pride of lions at Africa Alive!) The inventory is a chance for the keepers and the Animal Records Keeper to check the numbers all tally, especially some of the larger groups of animals such as the Madagascan hissing cockroaches (Africa Alive! has nearly 200!).
The keepers work with the animals every day and record all sorts of information about their health and behaviour on the ZIMS (Zoological Information Management System) database. ZIMS is accessed by zoos across the globe. This sharing of information enables the coordinators of captive breeding programs to analyse populations and make recommendations to zoos, which in turn helps maintain healthy captive populations of some of the most endangered animals on the planet.