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From tigers to snails, London Zoo counts every critter

London Zoo is in the midst of its annual animal audit. It takes some creative counting techniques to tally up some of the beasties.

Tigers and penguins and meerkats, oh my!

London Zoo has quite a challenge on its hands as it tackles its annual animal count this week. The zoo gave fans an inside look at how the stocktake works with a video showing some adorable, furry and slimy behind-the-scenes inventory action.

Even the tiniest of snails needs to be counted. London Zoo hosts over 2,000 partula snails as part of a conservation program for the critically endangered Polynesian tree snails. A lot of these snails have been released back into their native environment, but the zoo needs to know how many it has left in residence.

The census takes over a week to complete. It was easy to count the zoo's four Sumatran tigers, but sea creatures and insects require more creative approaches.

"Aquarium keepers take photos of the tanks and use still images to avoid counting the same fish twice, while the BUGS team cheat and count ant colonies as one, instead of tracking hundreds of individual ants," the zoo notes.

The audit feeds into an international database shared with other zoos around the globe. It's also a requirement for maintaining the zoo's license. And sometimes, as with the zookeeper with a meerkat on her lap, it's just fun to watch.

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