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Last Updated: Friday, 13 January 2006, 11:08 GMT
Animals lining up for stock take
Langur monkey
A baby Francois langur monkey was born last November
Giant Malaysian stick insects and hornbills are among thousands of animals being counted during the annual stock take at London Zoo.

Keepers at the Regent's Park attraction will log more than 600 different species to ensure every birth and death for the past year has been recorded.

Among last year's successes is a colony of rare Bermudan snails.

A giant anteater, bongo calf, Francois langur monkey and a penguin chick were also born at the zoo in 2005.

Dave Clark, head keeper of the Invertebrate Conservation Unit, explained that the yearly count was vital to the zoo's conservation work.

'Amazing camouflage'

"It's important that we do an audit of the animals in the collection, as much as any office might do at the end of the year," he said.

"Because we are breeding animals all the time we want to know how we are doing."

Mr Clark said working in the invertebrate unit, the count was particularly challenging.

"The leaf insects are the worst because they have the most amazing camouflage, they do look exactly like a leaf, and I have difficulty seeing them, and I've been looking at them for 20 years," he said.

8308 invertebrates
812 mammals
575 birds
456 reptiles
11 amphibians
2715 fish

Since the last count keepers have also taken delivery of a litter of otter cubs and a litter of meerkats.

The zoo's two-year-old male Asiatic lion, Lucifer, is expected to play an important role in a European breeding programme this year.

And a new viewing platform at the giraffe paddock and a walk-through butterfly house is expected to open by Easter.

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