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.  

African lions Malik Winta and Waka are counted at Whipsnade Zoo

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.

Scimitar horned oryx are counted at Whipsnade Zoo by Zookeeper

“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.”  

Zookeeper James Ford adds Asian shot clawed otters to the Whipsnade stocktake

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.  

Conservation at the Zoo

  • Zookeeper netting Lake Acigol killifish in Turkey
    Saving a species from extinction

    Saving the killifish

    We’re working hands-on at Lake Acıgöl in Turkey, which is larger than the city of Brighton and supports all kinds of life, including flamingos, pelicans, and a unique species of killifish.

  • A sihek chick in a keeper's hand
    24 July 2023

    Guam kingfisher recovery project takes flight

    Whipsnade zookeeper hand rears Extinct in the Wild birds in US ahead of first wild release

  • Collection of heat sensing elephant images from Whipsnade Zoo which are used for elephant conservation
    Our elephant herds crucial role in conservation

    Elephant conservation at Whipsnade Zoo

    Over a two year period we took more than 30,000 thermal images of the elephants at Whipsnade Zoo for this ground-breaking conservation initiative to help people live alongside elephants.

  • Scmitar-horned Oryx introductions in Chad
    Ground-breaking reintroduction

    Scmitar-horned Oryx introductions

    Restoring the scimitar-horned to its historical range in the 78,000km² Ouadi Rimé-Ouadi Achim Game Reserve in central Chad.

  • Elephant dung being tested at Whipsnade Zoo
    19 May 2022

    Vital research using elephant dung begins at Whipsnade Zoo

    Zookeepers at the UK’s largest Zoo are collecting elephant dung samples to help conservationists

  • View of Chiltern Downs from Whipsnade Zoo
    Native wildlife at the Zoo

    Native wildlife conservation

    From moles to badgers, from grizzled skipper butterflies to cinnabar moths and slow worms, from grass ants to bumble bees, Whipsnade is a haven for biodiversity and we do everything we can to protect it.

  • Zoo conservation