ZSL London zookeepers begin the count at the British zoo's annual stocktake this week.
With over 400 species to record, the count still took place behind closed doors in London's Tier 5 lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, in what has been "the most challenging year" of ZSL London Zoo's 200 history, according to Chief Operating Officer Kathyrn England. Lost ticket sales have impacted animal care and the zoo's global conservation efforts.
"We were shut down for over 18 weeks, costing us millions and millions of pounds. But now we are taking stock of what we have done and achieved this year, looking at the animals we have bred, counting them up and sharing our success globally, within our endangered species programer," England said.
From endangered Asiatic lions to critically endangered Chinese giant salamanders, the zookeepers have their work cut out.
"Counting 18,000 animals is quite a task. If you can imagine, for some keepers, maybe counting the giraffes is quite easy, they are quite large, but for some of our smaller stock like our invertebrate species, it can be quite a task. So, instead of counting them individually, we will count them in colonies, making it slightly easier," said England.
Part of the zoo's successful breeding program of endangered species saw the arrival of many new animals.
The annual stocktake of animals is submitted each year as part of the zoo's licence, but is also vital to record progress of and inform the international zoo community of the global conservation breeding work being carried out.