Animal keepers count heads for the annual inventory at West Midland Safari Park
Every year, every creature large and small must be counted, from huge African elephants to tiny, critically endangered golden mantella frogs.
The total number of animals changes each year and in 2021 the attraction welcomed new animals, with the birth of two white rhino fawns and 26 rainbow lorikeet chicks, as well as the arrival of a red panda.
Wildlife manager Angela Potter said: ‘This is the time of year when we do the annual count of all our animals, big and small.
“We have 121 species with over 1,000 individuals, so it’s a real team effort to make sure every animal is included.
“Most are counted as individuals, like our herd of white rhinos, plus two adorable boys, Jambo and Jumani, born in 2021, but some are counted in colonies, like our tiny leafcutter ants.
“It would take a long time if you had to count each of them individually.
“Of course, our keepers count our animals daily and examine them carefully to ensure that they are all in good health, but this annual audit which takes place in January is something that every wildlife attraction must undertake as part of our zoo license requirements.
“In 2021, we welcomed new species to our collection, including Mei Lin, our beautiful red panda, who joined us in August, and three smaller species – white-bellied tree frogs, crocodile lizards and banded iguanas. Lou.
“We also said goodbye to some notable characters who left us to join collections in Scotland.
“These included Fennessy and Gerald, our two young male giraffes, and Grace, our young Grévy’s zebra, who all went to Edinburgh Zoo; and three Bactrian camels, Dierdre and Dippy, which are now at Highland Wildlife Park; and Doris who is at Parc Safari Blair Drummond.“
Auditing is part of the zoo’s licensing requirements and once each head has been counted the results are noted in a report which is sent to the local authority.
The safari park wildlife administrator then checks the results against the animal registration system, to ensure that the census matches.
A variety of animals live in the park, including mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates.
Some are easier to count than others, such as Pancake Tortoises, compared to Madagascar’s swift, fast cockroaches.
The safari park has exciting changes in store for some of their animals and guests this year, including new habitats for white rhinos, giraffes and Sumatran tigers and the installation of new trails, so day guests can see these animals, as well as African elephants, on foot.
Animal habitats will be upgraded alongside the introduction of eight new luxury lodges with spectacular views of the park’s charismatic giraffe tower and white rhino crash, which is due to open in April.