Creature count at Banham Zoo and Africa Alive!
- Credit: Nick Butcher
It is an annual audit that could easily drive its organisers wild as they work out how many creatures are under their watch.
With a multitude of species in their care zoo keepers at Banham Zoo, near Diss, and at Africa Alive!, at Kessingland, near Lowestoft, are facing a yearly daunting challenge as they carry out their annual animal count.
At the start or end of each year staff count every single animal in the sister sites to update their records, from meerkats to lemurs, to rhinos and cockroaches.
The operation to record the 4,000 or so animals is overseen at both sites by Jade House, the animal record keeper.
And yesterday she had the delight of counting some of this year's very welcome arrivals at Banham Zoo.
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She could be seen counting the zoo's four male Gelada baboons, who are led by the alpha male Malachi, and her audit also took in a Grevy's zebra foal, who was closely guarded by the zoo's four other zebras.
And a joey could be seen poking out its mother's other pouch in the kangaroo enclosure.
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A month-old African spoon bill chick was easily spotted in the penguin enclosure nestling by its mother in a nest, but a male Linne's two-toed sloth, who took up residence in May in the zoo's sub-tropical house, Eureka, proved more elusive to find in the rafters of the enclosure.
The count also took in a two Royal pythons, some of the thousand or so Madagascan hissing cockroaches, and four friendly giraffes.
At Africa Alive! lead qualified keeper Zoe Nunn could be seen yesterday doing the stock take.
She said: 'Every year we do a stock take to have a sort out and find out what we have. Also we do quick health checks before feeding the information into our database which can be accessed by other collections across the world.'
Among the 2,000 animals at Africa Alive! there are some that prove more difficult to count than others such as the park's spiny mice and millipedes which are separated into separate tanks to avoid confusion as they scurry around - before the painstakingly counting process begins.
'Its quite a long task but it is something different to do and with new arrivals such as Nugget the golden-bellied mangabey and Myrtle the black lemur, the park is always expanding.
'This is definitely my dream job, everyday is different and it is lovely getting up close with the animals especially those which are endangered,' added Miss Nunn.
The information from both sites, which are run by the Zoological Society of East Anglia, is collated through a database which is used by zoos around the world so the information about different animals can be shared for conservation purposes.