Gallery: West Mids Safari conducts its annual animal census

It was a case of all creatures great and small as the annual animal count began at the West Midland Safari Park.

Staff were called up to do the annual stocktaking but although shopkeepers may face a similar task they are unlikely to have to attempt the scale of that needed at the Bewdley attraction.

When it comes to stocktaking at the park it is a logistical nightmare as the animals do not necessarily line-up for the count, but move around and hide behind each other.

It is something every park and zoo has to do as part of their licence.

Bob Lawrence, director of wildlife at the park, said: “We don’t face a problem counting the elephants and lions because they are large and fewer in number. But we do have a problem when it comes to the smaller creatures. It really can be a logistical nightmare.

“So far our count has included 278 cockroaches and 180 leafcutter ants.

“I am not sure who has had the difficult job of counting the ants this time. It is not an easy task by any means. 

“We also have to take into account the reptiles, spiders and creatures that are nocturnal. Inevitably they hide behind plants and make the job very difficult.

“It is the smaller creatures that prove the nightmare because they are simply more difficult to count. But this count is something we really do have to do.

“The official count goes off to the local authority. It is a legal requirement that we do an audit for the local authority which grants the licence. It is something every park and zoo in the country has to do at this time of the year. 

“Fortunately, we are better prepared than many other parks and zoos as we do a monthly count here, whereas many others leave it far longer. There are some who do it every three months.

“We alert the staff and head keepers who care for the animals and then they carry out the count. Everyone gets geared up for the event.

“All the details of the count are also logged by the veterinary nurse Sarah Smith who will also know whether animals are about to give birth and produce youngsters who will need adding to the list.

“The inventory has ultimately grown over the years as we have introduced different animals and new arrivals to the park.

“It is also a gauge of how popular the park is as a major tourist attraction and its success in breeding programmes and in terms of conservation.”

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