On 1 January 2015, staff here at Twycross Zoo will begin an annual stocktake of all our animals. The data that we collect will be fed into a large database that is accessible by zoos from all around the world, providing vital information about animal populations.
Every year zoos are required to provide an official census of all their animals. In some cases this is easier said than done, particularly in some of our new exhibits such as the Butterfly House and Lorikeet Landing where the animals have a large space and plenty of camouflage in which to roam and hide.
Dr. Charlotte Macdonald, Head of Life Sciences explains, “All of our keepers perform daily checks on the animals that they are responsible for, so Twycross Zoo always has up to date knowledge of how many animals we have. Obviously some of our animals are easier to count than others. When it comes to counting some of our insects and invertebrates such as our butterflies and cockroaches, we have to use population estimates.
2014 was a great year for Twycross Zoo in terms of animal births, so this year’s census will now include Esha the endangered Asian elephant calf, Alexei and Arina the critically endangered Amur leopard cubs, twin emperor tamarin monkeys, Cherry the vicuna cria and Scarlett, Ruby and Rioja the bush dog pups, as well as several more baby primates.
Dr. Macdonald continues, “The information that zoos share from their annual inventories helps zoos worldwide to monitor the health of captive bred species. Animals can move from zoo to zoo in order to maintain healthy breeding populations, so the database tells us which zoos have individuals that could take part in breeding programmes. A great example of this is Kristen, our female Amur leopard, who came to Twycross Zoo from a zoo in the Czech Republic so that she could be paired with our male, Davidoff. They hit it off straight away and as a result we have our cubs Alexei and Arina who are a significant boost to the species population, where there are fewer than 40 Amur leopards remaining in the wild.”