An endangered red panda and okapi calf are among the new residents at Marwell, we are beginning the decade busily conducting our annual animal stocktake.
Each year, we count every single creature, great and small, living in the park as part of its zoo licence.
Our keepers undertake the mammoth task tallying up every resident mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, fish and invertebrate, from our historically popular tigers and zebras to its very latest arrivals, a trio of long-nosed potoroos.
Keepers are well practised at keeping count of over 140 different species throughout the year. However, while most find the task relatively easy, imaginative tactics are used by others to ensure every resident at the zoo is accounted for.
The zoo’s 15 Humboldt penguins gather round to be counted, with the promise of a fishy treat as a reward and the birds team take the opportunity to weigh the penguins as part of their regular health checks.
The herps team, which look after reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates, cheat and calculate schools of fish and an army of frogs as one group each. It’s easier than trying to count the super speedy scissortail rasbora fish or hundreds of tiny yellow-throated frogs, both located in the zoo’s lush, tropical Energy For Life exhibit.
There were plenty of new arrivals at Marwell Zoo in 2019, all set to be added to the census.
Joining from other zoos around the UK and Europe, we welcomed a Grevy’s zebra, plains zebra and an important male red panda, Peter, who keepers are hoping will have success producing offspring with our female red panda, Mei Mei. Only time will tell if the pair produce the pitter-patter of tiny paws in 2020.
In 2019, we also celebrated brand new species to the collection, including a new type of endangered mongoose with the arrival of a female bokiboky, named Bullet, six Rio Cauca caecilians, a type of aquatic amphibian and three small marsupials, an all-male trio of long-nosed potoroos.
We also welcomed some brand new baby arrivals with many rare and endangered species born in 2019, including an okapi, roan antelope, mountain bongo, Przewalski’s horse, scimitar-horned oryx, Grevy’s zebra, Greater flamingo chicks, Guianan squirrel monkeys and multiple birds and insects, to name but a few.
A requirement of our zoo licence, we keep detailed records of every animal birth, death, arrival and departure.
Collection Manager, Ross Brown said: “The information is shared with other zoos around the world via a database. It’s used to help manage the worldwide conservation breeding programmes for animals.
“We’ve had some fantastic breeding success last year, and we’ve been granted recommendations by the European Endangered Species Programme and Studbook holders to breed some really exciting species moving forward, so bring on 2020!”