Africa Alive and Banham Zoo start stock take

It takes about four hours for the zoos to count 1,500 cockroaches

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More than 1,500 cockroaches and two new zebras are among the animals being counted at zoos in Suffolk and Norfolk.

The stocktake of animals at Africa Alive, near Lowestoft, and Banham Zoo started on 1 January and takes about four days to complete.

Hayley Parker, head keeper at Africa Alive, said cockroach counting was not one of the better jobs.

"Most people will do it but it's not necessarily a favourite job for people," she said.

Both zoos are run by the Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA), a charitable trust formed last year.

The stocktake is performed annually and the results are fed into a database which can be viewed by other zoos around the world.

"Anyone can see them to check what we're holding, and they can see if they want any of our species," Ms Parker said.

Bird issues

Banham Zoo's count will show a change in the number of Grevy's zebra.

One of the zoo's females died last March, but two more were imported in December.

"Animals are never traded for money," said Mike Woolham, animal manager at Banham Zoo.

"All I have to do is pay for the transport."

The cost of importing two Grevy's zebras from Germany, boosting the total stock at Banham to four, cost about 3,000 euro (£2,500).

Mr Woolham said zebras and tigers were some of the easiest to count of the zoos' 64 species which are part of managed breeding programmes.

Birds pose more of a problem.

"The nesting boxes can make it difficult to count them," Mr Woolham said.

"Feeding time is a great way to get the birds out."

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