Each year, Marwell Zoo counts every single creature, great and small, living in the wildlife park as part of its zoo licence.
Marwell’s keepers undertake the mammoth task tallying up every resident mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, fish and invertebrate, from its historically popular tigers and zebras to its very latest arrivals, a trio of long-nosed potoroos.
Marwell Zoo keepers are well practiced at keeping count of over 140 different species throughout the year. However, while most find the task relatively easy, imaginative tactics are used by others to ensure every resident at the zoo is accounted for.
The zoo’s 15 Humboldt penguins gather round to be counted, with the promise of a fishy treat as a reward and the birds team take the opportunity to weigh the penguins as part of their regular health checks.
The herps team, which look after reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates, cheat and calculate schools of fish and an army of frogs as one group each. It’s easier than trying to count the super speedy scissortail rasbora fish or hundreds of tiny yellow-throated frogs, both located in the zoo’s lush, tropical Energy For Life exhibit.
There were plenty of new arrivals at Marwell Zoo in 2019, all set to be added to the census.
Joining from other zoos around the UK and Europe, the wildlife park welcomed a Grevy’s zebra, plains zebra and an important male red panda, Peter, who keepers are hoping will have success producing offspring with the zoo’s female red panda, Mei Mei. Only time will tell if the pair produce the pitter patter of tiny paws in 2020.
In 2019, Marwell also celebrated brand new species to the collection, including a new type of endangered mongoose with the arrival of a female bokiboky, named Bullet, six Rio Cauca caecilians, a type of aquatic amphibian and three small marsupials, an all-male trio of long-nosed potoroos.
Marwell Zoo also welcomed some brand new baby arrivals with many rare and endangered species born in 2019, including an okapi, roan antelope, mountain bongo, Przewalski’s horse, scimitar-horned oryx, Grevy’s zebra, Greater flamingo chicks, Guianan squirrel monkeys and multiple birds and insects, to name but a few.
A requirement of Marwell Zoo’s licence, the conservation charity keeps detailed records of every animal birth, death, arrival and departure.
Marwell Zoo’s Animal Collection Manager, Ross Brown said: “The information is shared with other zoos around the world via a database. It’s used to help manage the worldwide conservation breeding programmes for animals.
“We’ve had some fantastic breeding success last year, and we’ve been granted recommendations by the European Endangered Species Programme and Studbook holders to breed some really exciting species moving forward, so bring on 2020!”
Marwell Zoo is home to over 3,500 animals, which incorporate over 140 different species. There are over 2,000 fish, 1,000 invertebrates, 215 mammals, 180 birds, 100 amphibians and 50 reptiles.
Marwell Zoo is a great day out for all the family. For more information visit www.marwell.org.uk.