Throughout December the Christmas countdown was on however at the Zoo our Animal Care Team were counting up, not in preparation for the arrival of the big man himself, but for our annual animal roundup!

This annual count is a requirement of our Zoo License and takes place in December. Each section of the Zoo is required to count all of the animals they care for and then submit these to the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) and a central database.

Counting animals may seem like an easy task, however some of the smaller creatures can make the job a little trickier. Some residents are submitted as 1 colony rather than individual numbers – this makes things a little easier, making sure the team don’t count the same fish twice in an aquarium of tropical fish or the same bird twice in a flock of flying birds.

The numbers are now in from this year’s roundup. The total number of species at Colchester Zoo is made up of the following:

No. of speciesIUCN Critically EndangeredIUCN Endangered

This equates to over 155 species at the Zoo, including many IUCN Critically Endangered species such as Amur Leopards, Black and White Lemurs and Bornean Orangutans. Within this number, we have also welcomed new species, recorded new births and said a sad goodbye to some old friends.

At the beginning of 2023, we started our historical year on a high with the birth of a female Southern White Rhino calf to mum Astrid. The calf’s name, Dara, was announced by their Majesties the King and Queen on a visit to Colchester and she has since become a firm favourite with our visitors. We were delighted to see the hatching of two penguin chicks at Easter who were later named by the public, Jalapeno and Tabasco!

Over the course 2023, we welcomed some special individuals to the Zoo family, including female Cheetah, Anika, from Vienna Zoo; female Pileated Gibbon, Qiwen, from Zurich Zoo and two Goeldi’s Monkeys, Pedro and Pascal from ZooNeuwied. This is the first time in 8 years that the Zoo has housed Goeldi’s Monkeys.

Whilst we welcomed anticipated births and new arrivals, we also said a sad goodbye to long standing individuals that have been a huge part of the Colchester Zoo family. In February 2023, we mourned the passing of Sasha our Burmese Python; in June we announced that our oldest Aardvark at the Zoo and in Europe, Afer, passed away; in August, we said a sad goodnight to our beloved Amur Tiger, Anouska at the age of 19 and in September, we shared the news that Freddy the Pygmy Hippo passed away at the age of 22. Sasha, Afer, Anouska and Freddy were a huge part of the Colchester Zoo family and are deeply missed by both staff and visitors.

You can read more of our 2023 round up here.

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