Photo gallery: Banham Zoo animal count features more than a thousand creepy crawlies

Banham Zoo staff start that their annual count of the animals.Jade Ralph, animal records keeper.Pict

Banham Zoo staff start that their annual count of the animals.Jade Ralph, animal records keeper.Picture by: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

The Madagascan hissing cockroach may not be everyone's choice of animal.

But for the staff at Banham Zoo, near Diss, the creepy crawlies are a fascinating part of the south Norfolk attraction's community and thanks to the annual count the keepers know that there are 1,079 of them.

Every year the zoo's animal records keeper and 11 keepers are tasked to complete an animal count – and this at times can be challenging, according to Jade Ralph, 30, who is heading the creature audit,

She said: 'I've only been Banham's animal record keeper for six months, but I am thoroughly enjoying this task, although having to count and sex over a thousand cockroaches by hand is complicated.'

For many of the staff the count also becomes a great chance to inspect all the animals and make sure all the records on the global, real-time Zoological Information Management System database are correct.

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'Food is the best tool any zoo keeper can have when trying to count,' said head keeper Sarah Jermy, 37, 'but the animals can get rather cheeky, especially the lemurs, who like to jump on me and grab the food out of my pocket.'

Most of the animals are micro-chipped, which staff say is a handy tool to keep individual animal records, but for the two zebras and the four giraffes this is not necessary as they are born with individual markings, a bit like a human finger prints, and so can be easily identified.

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Last year Banham Zoo attracted more than 210,200 visitors, even though not all the animals like the Victorian crowned pigeons, were on display due to a fire in the Eureka! Amazing Oasis sub-tropical house.

The creatures affected by the blaze are still in isolation but are doing well.

Banham Zoo's sister site, Africa Alive at Kessingland, near Lowestoft, is also carrying out its animal audit.

Have you had an unusual or close encounter with an exotic animal in East Anglia? Email

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