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It’s the big animal count!

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Meerkat family at Marwell Zoo shot by Glenn Atkins

140 species, 2,000 fish, 1,000 invertebrates, 215 mammals, 180 birds, 100 amphibians and 50 reptiles all make up the extended family at Marwell Zoo.

Each year, Marwell Zoo counts every single creature, great and small, living in the wildlife park as part of its zoo licence, and the keepers have developed imaginative tactics to ensure every resident is accounted for.

The zoo’s 15 Humboldt penguins gather round to be counted, with the promise of a fishy treat as a reward, and the birds team take the opportunity to weigh the penguins as part of their regular health checks.

The herps team, which look after reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates, cheat and calculate schools of fish and an army of frogs as one group each. It’s easier than trying to count the super speedy scissortail rasbora fish or hundreds of tiny yellow-throated frogs, both located in the zoo’s lush, tropical Energy For Life exhibit.

There were plenty of new arrivals at Marwell Zoo in 2019, including Grevy’s zebra, plains zebra and an important male red panda, Peter, who keepers are hoping will have success producing offspring with the zoo’s female red panda, Mei Mei.

Marwell Zoo Zebras at Wild Explorers by JJCookphotography

Only time will tell if the pair produce the pitter patter of tiny paws in 2020.

In 2019, Marwell also celebrated brand new species to the collection, including a new type of endangered mongoose with the arrival of a female bokiboky, named Bullet, six Rio Cauca caecilians, a type of aquatic amphibian and three small marsupials, an all-male trio of long-nosed potoroos.

Marwell Zoo also welcomed some brand new baby arrivals with many rare and endangered species born in 2019, including an okapi, roan antelope, mountain bongo, Przewalski’s horse, scimitar-horned oryx, Grevy’s zebra, Greater flamingo chicks, Guianan squirrel monkeys and multiple birds and insects, to name but a few.

Marwell Zoo is home to over 3,500 animals and is a great day out for the whole family – why not visit and see how many you can count.

For more information visit www.marwell.org.uk.