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Twycross Zoo carries out its annual animal census

Even the smallest bugs count. zoo Keeper With Millipede


Keepers at Twycross Zoo are gearing up to carry out the annual stocktake of the zoo's animals. Counting each individual of the 163 species will surely keep the staff busy on the first day of 2016. While the leaf-cutter ants are usually counted as one colony, lorikeets, butterflies, and other large groups will require closer attention.

The animal count is not a rare exercise for the keepers. In fact, the vast majority of animals are counted daily to make sure everyone is well. Currently there are 1,907 animals at Twycross Zoo and many of the species at the zoo are imminently threatened with extinction. Keeping the animal count and sharing this data with other zoos around the world therefore plays a crucial role in the conservation of these species.

The annual census also celebrates the times of joy, seeing new animals that were born through the year appear on the list. During 2015 the zoo had 43 births, some of the most notable are, for example, male bonobo Ndeko, who is one of only 7 bonobo new-borns in Europe this year, or two critically endangered black-headed spider monkeys born at Twycross Zoo after 24 years of keeping the species. An additional 108 animals were transferred to the zoo from other zoos, as part of European and international breeding programmes, and this includes three male giraffes: Epesi, Setanta and Brad; who reside in the new Giraffe Savannah habitat which opened in April 2015.

On the other hand, Sayan, the last of snow leopard cubs born at Twycross Zoo in 2013 is one of the 79 animals that left the zoo in 2015, to go on to live in social groups in other zoos and in many cases to start their own families. Possibly the animals that travelled furthest this year are two meerkats who now call Wellington, New Zealand home, and will help boost the genetic pool of this species in the Australasian region.

Dr Charlotte Macdonald, Director of Life Sciences says, "Working with so many endangered species, Twycross Zoo plays a significant role in international conservation breeding programmes. Precise knowledge of our animals is essential for us to arrange transfers and maintain healthy breeding populations. All the data is input into an international records database which currently holds records of 3.4 million animals in 87 countries. This way the breeding programme coordinators are able to identify potential breeding partners for our animals."

Twycross Zoo is open to the public from 10.00 to 17.00. For more information and to book tickets visit or call 0844 474 1777.