A stock take is more readily associated with the retail business, than the zoological. But keepers at Belfast Zoo are starting the biggest job of their calendar — counting each animal in their care for the New Year stock take.
This mammoth task is performed every January in compliance with legislation which requires zoos to keep precise records of every animal birth, death, arrival and departure.
Belfast Zoo currently houses 140 species of animal, including 62 types of mammals, 55 species of birds and 15 species of reptile or amphibian. In 2008, there were 44 births on Cavehill, including an Eastern bongo, Red river hogs, California sea lions, Spider monkeys and penguins.
Pictured above, top, is Andrew Hope feeding some Gentoo penguins and some of the other animals at the zoo.
The stock take data is submitted to the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), which offers guidance on all aspects of zoo management and animal welfare.
Mark Challis, zoo manager, said: “It’s important that zoos ensure their figures are correct so they can best manage conservation. Some species in captivity, such as Socorro doves, are now extinct in the wild. Therefore, when zoos submit data to these databases, it means we can run scientifically-based breeding programmes to safeguard them.”
The conservation and educational wildlife charity, founded in 1966, represents 80 member organisations.