One, Two, Count the Kudu; Three, Four, Reptiles and more; Five, Six, Don’t forget the Dik-Diks….

As we begin 2023 the Animal Care Team have been busy taking on the mammoth annual task of counting all the residents of Colchester Zoo as part of our yearly stock take which is a requirement of our Zoo license. From mammals to birds, fish, reptiles, and insects – all must be counted!

Throughout 2022 we said hello to new arrivals and welcomed over 100 exciting newborns from endangered species to family favourites but also a sad goodbye to some old friends.

Whilst the teams counting the larger mammals and birds may have an easy task, others find it a little more difficult! Therefore, many of our fish and insect species are counted as colonies rather than individuals. These small and quick moving species can be very tricky to count and if the team had to count them individually, they could be there for hours or maybe even days! Can you imagine losing count right near the very end?!

The numbers are in from 2022’s stock take and the total number of species at Colchester Zoo is made up of the following:
Mammals – 67
Fish – 45
Reptiles – 27
Birds – 16
Amphibians – 6
Invertebrates – 5

This equates to over 1,000 individual animals plus colonies of fish and invertebrates, with just over 100 new-borns in 2022! Within this number we have also welcomed several new species to Colchester Zoo including our adorable Guinea Pigs and mischievous Ferrets.

In 2022, our Barbary Macaque troop welcomed their first baby, which was also the first to be born at Colchester Zoo in over 30 years! On 25th April, M’Punky gave birth to a single offspring named Safi. One month and one day later, the group grew once again with first-time mum, Ouria, welcoming yet another Barbary Macaque baby named Pippin. This species is currently classed as ‘Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, so it is brilliant news to have had two successful births to help towards the conservation of this species.

Whilst many species saw the arrival of the next generation, other species lost long standing family members. On 4th March 2022, we had to say a sad goodbye to Lioness, Naja, at 18 years old. The 15th  of June was another extremely upsetting day as one of our beloved Sea Lions, Paris who had been a resident at Colchester Zoo for 19 years passed away. It’s always hard losing one of our animals and it’s even harder when that animal has become a big personality within the Colchester Zoo family.

Since the UK left the EU, animal transfers to Europe have been a challenging process due to extra certification and health checks required. On 29th June, our young Tamandua, Tomsk, went travelling to Germany following an EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria) ESB breeding recommendation. Tomsk was successfully transferred to Zoo Krefeld where he was introduced to female Tamandua, Zora, in the hope that they will form a breeding pair. On 19th October 2-year-old Lottie, the White Rhino, packed her bags and travelled to her new home at Thüringer Zoopark Erfurt in Germany. Erfurt had been excited for the arrival of Lottie as they had recently redeveloped a new Rhino habitat. Lottie’s transfer had been 6 months in the making so we were delighted to hear that she had arrived safely and is settling in well with her new rhino friend Stella.

Not only will 2023 be packed full of special events and historical reflections to celebrate our 60th birthday, we are also ready and waiting for the pitter-patter of four very large, yet adorable, feet upon our Kingdom of the Wild paddock. Our Southern White Rhino breeding programme is one of our most successful here at Colchester Zoo and is championed by our male, Otto, who has sired an amazing five calves! Astrid’s new arrival will be the seventh calf born here at Colchester Zoo so after a gestation period of a whopping 16/18 months, we’re ready and sure that Astrid is too!

We look forward to what 2023 has in store for our animals and what we can contribute to conservation of the animal kingdom.

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