8 January 2024
UK’s largest Zoo kicks off the New Year with mammoth stocktake
Our Zookeepers have kicked off the New Year by counting every mammal, bird, reptile, fish and invertebrate today (Monday 8 January), as part of our Annual Stocktake. As the UK's largest zoo we're home to more than 245 species of animals at the Zoo, from tiny extinct in the wild partula snails, to the multi-generational herd of Asian elephants.
Our Animal Operation Manager Hayley Jakeman told us 2023 saw the arrival of many new animals to our conservation zoo including Sabre, a male scimitar horned oryx:
“Sabre will be added to the Zoo stocktake this year after joining our herd in 2023 – and we hope his arrival will mean we can add even more oryx to the count next year. The scimitar horned oryx population at Whipsnade Zoo are part of a globally important conservation breeding programme.
“In 2014 two females from Whipsnade were transferred to Abu Dhabi. Along with 23 oryx bred at other zoos, these individuals helped the Government of Chad and the Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi (EAD) to establish a genetically diverse “world herd” for reintroduction to the wild – a herd which now boasts 600 individuals. Thanks to this and efforts of conservation organisations like ZSL, the species which was previously declared extinct in the wild by the IUCN, has recently been downlisted to Endangered – a brilliant success.”
Also being counted for the first time were otter pups Dali, Cahya and Lalita by zookeeper James Ford. They were the second set of otter pups born to Mum Carole and Dad Ernie in 2023. The species are threatened in the wild by habitat loss and pollution. Zookeeper Thomas Maunders made sure every Mangarahara cichlid in the aquarium was added to the list, while the African lions’ tally-board was turned into a fun enrichment toy – scented with spices to stimulate the big cats’ strong sense of smell.
The annual stocktake is a requirement of our Zoo license. Following the count, as a conservation zoo we will share the final numbers with zoos and aquariums around the world via Species360, an international database which helps conservationists to manage important breeding programmes for endangered species.