Counting the animals two by two!

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Staff at Flamingo Land near Malton and Scarborough Sea Life Centre have been counting up all creatures great and small as part of the annual animal stock take.

Laura Hester, senior education officer, explained: “The annual stocktake is a requirement under our zoo licence.

Sealife Centre stocktake with Amy McFarlane.Picture Richard Ponter 140113b

Sealife Centre stocktake with Amy McFarlane.Picture Richard Ponter 140113b

“We have to check exactly how many animals we have of every species that we keep here. It’s actually a straightforward procedure because all of our keepers would know at any time of year how many animals they look after on their section. They keep constant records of births, deaths and departures to or arrivals from other zoos.

“The annual count is about double checking that data and making sure it matches up exactly with all our computer records.

“In general, the larger animals, such as rhinos and hippos are extremely easy to count - you can’t miss a rhino!

“The hardest animals to count are things that are small, shy and move around a lot - things like mara in our South American enclosure. They’re small, there are lots of them and the enclosure is very large because they share it with a number of other species.”

Todd German, senior aquarist at the Sea Life Centre, said that the hardest things to count are schools of fish.

He explained: “We normally take a photograph and then count using the picture. It makes things much easier.

“The seahorses are nice and easy as they’re slow moving, but coral can be tricky as there as so many different species.”

Todd added that the count normally takes a couple of days and all the staff tend to get involved.