A busy start to the New Year for Belfast Zoo!

The zookeepers have been busy working out who's who at Belfast Zoo.

A huge count of around 120 species and 600 individual animals has been completed! Animal counts are completed as part of zookeeper's daily routine, but it is important every year to have a detailed register of all the animals on site to ensure accurate records are maintained. This information is then sent to a central database and shared with zoos around the world. The database links more than 20,000 animal care professionals in more than 1,100 zoos and aquariums across the world, records more than 22,000 species and over 10,000 individual animals.


The annual stock take allows the keepers to keep track of the births, deaths and new arrivals during the year. In the last year the births in Belfast Zoo have included a Rothschild giraffe, an eastern bongo, 13 gentoo penguins, a vicuña, a François's langur, a white-belted ruffed lemur, a red panda cub and more!


Zoo Manager, Alyn Cairns, said "Although we keep accurate records of our animals all year round, this precise stock take is an important step in maintaining our licencing regulations. Maintaining a high level of accuracy and regulatory adherence and sharing our records in a global zoo database allows us to continue to collaborate and engage with breeding programmes across the world. Here at Belfast Zoo we are a part of more than 60 breeding programmes, we are home to a number of rare endangered breeds, some of which are unfortunately extinct in the wild.''


Alyn continued, ''Belfast Zoo was the first zoo in the UK and Ireland to successfully breed a Goodfellow's tree kangaroo and with continued success in 2019 we welcomed a new baby joey. Completing steps like the stock take can be essential in maintaining an up-to-date central database that can facilitate scientific detailed reports which can be a huge help to breeding programmes across the globe. It is fantastic that Belfast Zoo can have a collaborative approach to safeguarding and conserving some of the world's most endangered species, both iconic and lesser known, which we will continue to focus on in 2020."


Belfast Zoo is dedicated to helping to preserve native wildlife. The zoo have developed a number of effective native species projects for species including barn owls, hedgehogs, and red squirrels. The zoo's red squirrel breeding program has seen exceptional results with red squirrels being reintroduced to the wild, in areas such as Glenarm Estate, Carnfunnock Country Park and more! The zoo encourages local wildlife to make use of various habitats within the zoo site, by providing bat boxes and bird boxes, and plays an active role in improving pollinators through wild flower meadows, and in supporting native bee species in the zoo's Buzz Stop.


This year, Belfast Zoo continues its conservation efforts by launching the William Brown Award in association with Friends of the Zoo. The William Brown Award is a native conservation award that young people aged between eight and 16 can get involved in. The award is open to submissions about native wildlife in all formats; young people can create posters, leaflets, presentations, word documents and more. There is the opportunity to submit to one of three categories: school groups, community groups or individuals. All entries will be judged and a £100 cash prize awarded to the winner of each group, an overall winner will be chosen and awarded £250.


You can visit all of Belfast Zoo's 120 species during your next visit to the zoo, for more information or to book your zoo tickets please visit http://www.belfastzoo.co.uk/plan-your-day/prices-tickets.aspx. For more information on the William Brown Award and terms and conditions please visit http://www.belfastzoo.co.uk/discover-and-learn/william-brown-award.aspx

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