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Zoo keepers play animal hide and seek as annual count gets underway

PUBLISHED: 15:10 08 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:20 08 January 2020

Keepers at Banham Zoo and Africa Alive! are undertaking the annual animal count   Picture: ZSEA

Keepers at Banham Zoo and Africa Alive! are undertaking the annual animal count Picture: ZSEA

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Some of the animals at Banham Zoo and Africa Alive! are masters at the game of hide and seek, as keepers have found out during the annual animal count.

Some animals are easier to count than others during Africa Alive! and Banham Zoo's annual animal count   Picture: ZSEASome animals are easier to count than others during Africa Alive! and Banham Zoo's annual animal count Picture: ZSEA

Spare a thought for the keeping staff at Banham Zoo and Africa Alive! who have started the new year by counting and recording every single animal at each zoo!

The keepers now face this mammoth annual task for zoo licensing requirements and also to assist with the many co-ordinated animal breeding programmes that each zoo is involved with.

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To enable these vital conservation breeding programmes to work successfully, the co-ordinators need to know what each participating zoo has on site at the end of each year. There are 104 animal species across both Banham Zoo and Africa Alive! which are part of vital European and international breeding programmes, so this stocktake is very important.

With the looming deadline for BREXIT approaching as well, the movement of animals between UK zoos and zoos throughout the rest of the world as part of these critical conservation programmes could be affected, so the correct animal numbers for the co-ordinators has never been more important.

"Although all the animal species at the zoos are regularly counted and checked, this is not usually done all at once, so it's a busy time for our keepers to make sure they get it right," explains David Field, chief executive of the Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA), which runs both the zoos. "Some animals understandably are easier to count than others, such as our lions at Africa Alive!, and others make it very tricky, such as the black-cheeked lovebirds at Africa Alive! who are very active and move around a lot. Then there are the more elusive animals such as our sloths Santos and Vlo at Banham Zoo, who are often hiding out in thick foliage so it's hard to find them, never mind count them.

Come out Santos, wherever you are!"

2019 was a busy year full of births, such as the red panda cub at Banham Zoo and a drill baby at Africa Alive!, visits from royalty and events such as Africa Alive! By Night and Banham Zoo's The Snowman and The Snowdog Bricklive Tour.

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