22 January 2022

Counting every zoo animal

Thousands of animals stood up to be counted at the Zoo as zookeepers kicked off the biggest task of the year behind closed doors – the first lockdown annual stocktake. 

While the rest of the country is in lockdown, Whipsnade’s dedicated keepers continue to care for the animals at the UK’s largest zoo and this week began to take stock of each and every invertebrate, bird, fish, mammal, reptile and amphibian – a compulsory task required as part of the Zoo’s license.  

 Zoo arrivals in 2020

Home to almost 4,000 animals and 280 species, we saw many new arrivals in 2020 – boosting the numbers of threatened species, including some which are Extinct in the Wild. Despite being closed for a total of 18 weeks in 2020, the zoo’s vital conservation work continued behind closed doors.  
Nilo, an endangered red panda cub was born to mum Tashi, seven Chinese water deer increased the numbers of the herd at the Zoo, and 14 Pere David deer, a species which is extinct-in-the-wild, were born in the summer.  

Red panda facts
Chief Operating Officer Owen Craft said: “Despite everything that 2020 threw at us and the huge challenges we continue to face, it’s so encouraging to take stock and highlight the positives in the last year.  

Sleepy Ruby the red panda at Whipsnade Zoo

“Our dedicated animal carers – zookeepers, vets, service teams – ensured our vital conservation work continued despite repeated closures and the financial pressures that created for us. As we now face another prolonged period of closure, we’re asking for support once again – any donation makes a huge difference.”  
As part of the international conservation breeding programme, two new female Southern white rhinos – Jaseera and Fahari - were moved to the Zoo in Autumn and its hoped that their introduction to Whipsnade’s male Sizzle will encourage a further increase in the population’s numbers.  

Our otters 
Our Animal Manager, Matthew Webb said; “As well as being a legal requirement for our zoo license, the stocktake gives us a chance to look back on the remarkable results of the past year. We’re so proud to have played a part in many conservation breeding programmes and to have helped increase numbers of threatened species, and we’ve been able to add some wonderful animals to the tally.  
“The last year presented us all with so many challenges. Here at Whipsnade we had to get used to new ways of working and saw some of our plans altered or paused – we were not expecting to be counting the sea lions again this year but we’re looking forward and determined to make 2021 another success for conservation.” 
A requirement of Whipsnade Zoo’s license, the annual audit takes keepers almost a week to complete and the information is shared with other zoos around the world via a database called ZIMs, where it’s used to help manage the worldwide conservation breeding programmes for endangered animals.  

Get closer to nature

  • Chimps at Whipsnade Zoo
    Sign up to Zoo updates

    Get animals in your inbox

    Be the first to hear about new arrivals, babies and all the latest happenings across our Zoo.

  • Goat at Hullabazoo farm Whipsnade Zoo
    Make new farmyard friends

    Hullabazoo Farm

    Our farm is an interactive, up-close adventure, where little ones are able to meet and greet a whole host of farmyard friends, including miniature donkeys, pygmy goats, pigs, sheep, rabbits and guinea pigs.

  • Ruby the red panda in a tree at Whipsnade Zoo

    Red Panda

    Discover red panda facts before visiting our red pandas at Whipsnade Zoo

  • Deer park at Whipsnade Zoo passage through Asia
    Some of Asia's biggest mammals

    Passage through Asia

    Journey through the fields with some of Asia's biggest mammals, including the extinct in the wild Père David's deer and only true wild horse, the Przewalski's horse.

  • Pere David’s deer adult and fawn at Whipsnade Zoo
    Elaphurus davidianus

    Père David's deer

    Extinct in the wild, our Père David deer are a part of breeding programme which is working towards restoring their wild population.