Counting The Animals One-By-One: Inside The Taronga Zoo Animal Stocktake

Taronga Zoo koalas. Image: Ellen Wilson.

It’s not just retailers who have to count their stock, keepers at Taronga and Western Plains Zoos have to do the same.

Each year in the lead up to June 30, zoo keepers complete a stocktake which involves counting all the animals one-by-one.

Taronga Zoo Asian Elephants. Image: Rick Stevens.

“We count every individual animal if they’re large enough – so everything that’s more than 15 grams like a feathertail glider,” Taronga Zoo’s senior curator Erna Walraven said.

“There are some animals we only do a group count for like stick insects, we count the colonies.

Blackbuck. Image: Leonie Saveille.

“The registrar, the person that keeps all our electronic details on each animal, will print out a list of who we think we’ve got and the keepers go out and check them all off the list.”

The last census showed there were 332 species and 4078 animals at Taronga Zoo. In 2013 there were 350 species and just over 3800 animals.

Spiny stick insect.

The Western Plains Zoo near Dubbo in western New South Wales recorded 69 species in both 2013 and 2014. Over the same period the number of animals increased from 516 to 570.

It’s an exercise which takes the keepers weeks to complete and Walraven said there have been plenty of cases where the numbers don’t much up.

“When you’ve got a large number of animals that are moving very fast, like in an aviary for example, you may have to go back and count them a couple of times,” she said.

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