Africa Alive! have had a busy year with lots of new arrivals!
Accurately counting all of Africa Alive!’s residents is no easy feat and it is a task that the keepers and the Animal Records Keeper face at the start of every year. The information is then sent to the local authorities as part of the requirements of our zoo licence.
This year there are even more animals to count as we have had many births to celebrate. From the arrival of a tiny Senegal bushbaby in January to a black-headed lamb in December, the year has been full of new appearances. We had a baby aardvark arrive in May, which was the first ever successful birth at the park and Africa Alive! now has the largest group of aardvarks in the country and the only UK zoo to have had a baby aardvark born this year!
We have also welcomed a baby pancake tortoise, two black lemurs, a black and white ruffed lemur, another Senegal bushbaby, a drill monkey, a king colobus monkey, four fossa, two slender-tailed meerkats, a Chapman’s zebra, two Somali wild ass, a nyala, three pygmy goats, four Kafue Flats lechwe and lots of sheep, phew!
When it comes to the big count at the end of the 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 end of year 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 zoo based breeding programs to analyse populations and make recommendations to zoos, which in turn helps maintain healthy zoo based populations of some of the most endangered animals on the planet. Some of the animals Africa Alive! have been able to breed this year are classed as critically endangered in the wild so these new births make a real difference.