But instead of counting goods like in a supermarket, the zoo counts residents, all its residents, animals big and small, regardless of whether they have feathers, fur, scales or a shell. With thousands of residents to record, it was all hands on deck – zookeepers, vets and staff from other departments – for counting, checking and documenting in preparation for the coming year. The new year at Hellabrunn began with counting, weighing and measuring for the zoo’s annual stocktake. For several days, all the animals were counted and the inventory lists were checked to ensure they were up-to-date. After the count had been completed, the data collected on all the animals will be compiled by the zoology department, sent to the City of Munich and summarised for the coming annual report. It will also answer the following question: How wide is the animal diversity at Hellabrunn?
Other departments such as the workshop and gardening also recorded the equipment available and things that may need to be replaced. The veterinary practice was equally busy in this respect in order to ensure it has everything needed to provide optimal care for the animals in the coming year.
Changes in zoo population and major challenges
There were some changes in the zoo population at Hellabrunn due to ongoing construction projects and cooperation with other scientifically-led zoos. "The number of animals at Hellabrunn depends on various factors and can therefore fluctuate within a year, which will be reflected at the end of the year. In addition to the number of births last year from successful breeding programmes and support for reintroduction projects, deaths also have an effect on the annual count," said Carsten Zehrer, curator and head of the zoology department.
The count for some species is very time-consuming: unlike with large animals, fish, birds and invertebrates are difficult to record with exact numbers. Zoo director Rasem Baban said: “Swarming animals are much more difficult to count than our five female giraffes in the African savannah or the members of our herd of elephants. Otto is over there, great. Inventory done! This is much more difficult with fish, birds or small animals such as house mice. All the zookeepers work closely together in order to obtain the most accurate figures for the current population. The daily reports that the colleagues in the animal care department prepare are used to compare and confirm the current figures. But of course we want to be as precise as possible.”
“The year 2022 was a major challenge for all zoological institutions, including Hellabrunn Zoo, due to the new restrictions caused by the pandemic and the increased energy costs. Given the global threat to many animal species, the protective measures recently adopted at the CITES World Wildlife Conference in Panama are a promising start to the coming year and for our efforts to conserve biodiversity. With the current construction projects, such as the revamping of the Jungle World, which has already begun, we are continuously working on the implementation of the agreed Master Plan and look forward to the coming year with optimism," Baban adds.