Zoo keepers are taking on the mammoth task of counting each and every animal in their collections for a New Year stock-take.

Collections keep detailed records of every animal birth, death, arrival and departure. The annual headcount is completed each January as a requirement of zoo licencing.

Staff at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park in Devon have nearly 2,000 heads to count, including around 360 mammals of 70 different species, nearly 1,000 birds of around 150 species, 221 reptiles (50 species) and 244 amphibians (30 species).

Paignton Zoo spokesperson Phil Knowling said: “Some keepers have their work cut out at this time of year. It’s easier to count our two black rhinos than it is to add up the hundreds of tiny frogs!”

Paignton Zoo’s new arrivals in 2012 included mangrove monitor lizards, East African Nectophrynoides toads, a false gharial freshwater crocodile, ring-tailed coatis and Northern tree-shrews. Births and hatchings at the charity zoo included a red crowned crane chick, a Brazilian tapir, two red pandas, two Hartmann’s mountain zebras, two Rothschild’s giraffes and four Asiatic lion cubs.

Meanwhile, staff at Living Coasts, Torquay’s coastal zoo and aquarium, have new species to count including Eurasian otters, sun beetles, rhino beetles, atlas beetles and stick insects. At the last count Torquay’s coastal zoo had nearly 400 individuals of 22 species.

Exhibit manager Clare Rugg said: “The penguins are hard to count – there are lots of them and they keep moving!”

Paignton Zoo Curator of Birds Jo Gregson said: “For the difficult species, like the various ducks on the main lake, we get as many keepers out in the grounds as possible and count at the same time. We count on several occasions during December so that we have an accurate grand total come January.”

Quotes Zootastic Paignton! Quotes