LONDON, Jan. 6 (UPI) — Keepers at the London Zoo are engaged this week in a task resembling the biblical account of Noah, counting thousands of animals belonging to 750 species.
David Field, the zoological director, told The Guardian the annual census is important not just to the zoo but to efforts to save endangered species.
“Some of the animals are extinct in the wild, like our Socorro doves,” he said. “The mountain chicken frogs are going extinct as we speak, and it’s so important that we know exactly how many we’ve got, how many we’ve bred and who has bred who.”
While counting large animals like the Komodo dragon the zoo acquired this year or the two lion cubs born in the zoo is simple, Field said a certain amount of fudging goes on with insects. Keepers, for example, count ant colonies instead of individual ants and estimate the numbers in the colonies.
Last year, the zoo’s total population was 14,567, including 7,510 invertebrates. Field expects the numbers to be somewhat higher this year from a combination of immigration and newborns.
Copyright 2010 by United Press International