London celebrations

From little ant to giant tortoise: London Zoo takes stock of its animals

Guardians at ZSL London Zoo started the new year with a tricky task: counting resident animals for an annual inventory.

Penguins, lions, monkeys and camels were among the 400 species the zoo must count each year for licensing and breeding reasons.

The task is also a good time to celebrate newcomers.

Sumatran tigress Gaysha gave birth to a small cub just before Christmas, bringing the number of tigers at ZSL London Zoo to three and increasing the number of global breeding programs for critically endangered species, according to the States the zoo website.

The House of Reptiles also saw the hatching of three bighead turtles, whose parents were rescued from the illegal wildlife trade.

It may seem easy and even fun at first glance, but imagine trying to count ants or jellyfish. Well, the team members at this zoo already have their tactics; they count ant colonies as one instead of following hundreds of individual ants, while aquarists take photographs of the lunar jellyfish tank to help complete their counts.

The annual audit usually lasts almost a week. The zoo shares the final data with other zoos around the world to help manage global conservation breeding programs for endangered species.

Watch the video to see how the count goes.