ZOOKEEPERS have taken on the mammoth annual task adding up all of Colchester Zoo's mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and insects.

The animal care team has been busy behind the closed gates counting all of the zoo's residents as part of its yearly stock take.

Following the count, the team confirmed the total number of species at the zoo is made up of:

  • 69 mammals
  • 55 fish
  • 21 birds
  • 34 reptiles
  • 19 invertebrates
  • 8 amphibians

Braintree and Witham Times:

Here - the lemurs being counted 

This equates to more than 1,000 individual animals, as well as colonies and groups of fish, reptiles, and other smaller species, with about100 newborns in 2020.

A spokesman said: "Whilst the teams counting the larger mammals may have an easy task counting their charges, others find it a little more difficult.

"For this reason, many of our fish, bird and insect species are counted as one group rather than as individuals, as these small and quick moving animals can be quite tricky to count and they would be there for hours maybe days trying to count them."

Braintree and Witham Times:

One, two, three - tigers are some of the easier animals to keep count of

Keepers welcomed some new species to the zoo last year, including large hairy armadillos Allie and Gomez, a striking Wreath hornbill and some amazing reptiles from Madagascar such as the Madagascan swift lizards and day geckos.

The number of White rhinos that call Colchester Zoo home also increased in 2020 with the arrival of two calves, Lottie and Tayo.

The zoo also welcomes four cheetah cubs, a large number of primate babies, Fijian iguana hatchlings and a Ruppel's griffon vulture chick fledged.

Braintree and Witham Times:

Present - the otters all showed up to the count 

They were welcomed due to successful breeding programmes at the zoo.

The spokesman added: "Whilst many species saw the arrival of the next generation, other species have lost long standing family members such as our chimpanzee family with the sad passing of Tekita, mum to Tumba and Talia and our Lion pride losing lioness Malika – these personalities are missed everyday but will never be forgotten.

"As the count is now complete our Animal Care Team and Animal Records Department will work together to collate all the final figures and submit the data to a central database as well as to the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA)."

Braintree and Witham Times:

Check - a pair of pygmy hippos 

Despite the zoo gates remaining closed and no regular income for now, the animal care team are there every day ensuring all the animals are well cared for as usual.

For information about how you can help support Colchester Zoo during the pandemic visit, colchesterzoo.org.