London Zoo animals step up to be counted

Keepers have had to be creative in counting every creature during London Zoo's annual stocktake.
Keepers have had to be creative in counting every creature during London Zoo's annual stocktake.

Keepers at Britain's London Zoo have been presented with the challenging task of counting every single animal, great and small, housed within its enclosures.

Keepers tallied some 19,289 creatures in the annual count of every mammal, bird, reptile, fish, amphibian and insect at the famous zoo in the UK capital.

A squirrel monkey was shown climbing all over a blackboard announcing the annual stocktake, while Humboldt penguins gathered closely around a keeper on the promise of a fishy treat.

"Caring for more than 750 different species, zoo keepers faced the challenging task of tallying up every mammal, bird, reptile, fish and invertebrate, counting every creature from penguins to partula snails," London Zoo said in a statement.

Smaller animals made the tally a little more difficult, requiring keepers to resort to alternative ways of counting them.

"While for some zookeepers the task is relatively easy, imaginative tactics are used by others to ensure every resident at the zoo is accounted for, such as the bugs team, who cheat and count ant colonies as one, instead of tracking hundreds of individual ants," the zoo said.

Last year saw the arrival of new residents to the zoo, including 11 Humboldt penguin chicks, eight Galapagos tortoises and two gibbons, all of which would need to be included in Wednesday's census, the zoo added.

This year's event was delayed after a fire just before Christmas that killed four meerkats and an aardvark.

Mark Haben of the Zoological Society of London says the count "brought everyone together and really allowed us all to support each other, and really focus on our animal breeding for this year".