Whipsnade Zoo carries out annual animal tally under lockdown
- Credit: ZSL
Thousands of animals have stood up to be counted at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo as zookeepers kicked off the first annual stocktake under lockdown conditions.
Despite being closed for a total of 18 weeks in 2020, the zoo’s vital conservation work continues behind closed doors.
Whipsnade’s dedicated keepers this week began to take stock of almost 4,000 animals and 280 species – a compulsory task required as part of the zoo’s license.
Whipsnade saw many new arrivals in 2020 – boosting the numbers of threatened species, including some extinct in the wild such as Nilo, an endangered red panda cub, seven Chinese water deer and 14 Pere David deer.
Chief operating officer Owen Craft said: “Despite everything 2020 threw at us and the huge challenges we continue to face, it’s so encouraging to take stock and highlight the positives in the last year.
“Our dedicated animal carers ensured our vital conservation work continued despite repeated closures and the financial pressures that created. As we now face another prolonged period of closure, we’re asking for support once again – any donation makes a huge difference.”
As part of the international conservation breeding programme, two new female southern white rhinos were moved to the zoo in the autumn and its hoped that their introduction to Whipsnade’s male Sizzle will encourage a further increase in the population’s numbers.
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ZSL animal manager Matthew Webb said: “The stocktake gives us a chance to look back on the remarkable results of the past year. We’re so proud to have played a part in many conservation breeding programmes and to have helped increase numbers of threatened species, and we’ve been able to add some wonderful animals to the tally.
“The last year presented us all with so many challenges. Here at Whipsnade we had to get used to new ways of working and saw some of our plans altered or paused – but we’re looking forward and determined to make 2021 another success for conservation.”
The annual audit takes keepers almost a week to complete and the information is shared with other zoos around the world to help manage worldwide conservation breeding programmes for endangered animals.
Reliant on income from ticket sales to care for the animals and fund their global conservation efforts, repeated enforced closures have put the charity zoo under huge financial pressure. You can help by donating what you can at www.zsl.org/donate