CHESTER Zoo have started their annual animal headcount as part of a compulsory census.

With thousands of animals at the zoo, many of them threatened with extinction in their own habitats, the census is legally required as part of the zoo’s operating license.

Keepers have the undeniably difficult task of noting down every vital detail of each individual mammal, reptile, amphibian, fish, bird and invertebrate in their care.

The data will also help plan breeding programmes for endangered species such as Asian elephants.

For the first time some of the world’s most vulnerable animals will also be involved in the zoo’s stocktake including Palawan binturongs, Javan green magpies and a rare Rothschild’s giraffe calf who was born on Boxing Day.

Wirral Globe:

Giraffe calf Murchison joins the count after being born on Boxing Day.

Records coordinator and responsible for compiling the information from the count Liz Ball said: “Zoo records are regularly updated to take into account any births, deaths, departures and arrivals - with every animal having its very own 'passport' detailing exactly who it is, where it was born and who its ancestors are.

"It’s all carefully designed to ensure the best possible management of vital worldwide conservation-breeding programmes for the many endangered species we work with.

“At the start of every year though, it's all hands on deck as keepers help double check the data with a full head-count. It’s a process which all zoos must go through by law in order to comply with the Zoo Licensing Act 1981.

“A whopping 20,827 animals were recorded during our last count but we expect to top that number this time around. New species, such as the Palawan binturong, have arrived in recent months and last year was also huge for us in terms of breeding successes. This really is going to be our biggest counting challenge ever.

“Among the new faces are four incredibly rare Javan green magpie chicks, a species which is critically endangered in the wild, a rare Asian elephant called Indali and male Rothschild’s giraffe calf Murchison who was born on Boxing Day. It’s fantastic to be able to add all of these important new-borns to the count.”

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