WHILE many woke with sore heads on New Year’s Day, the animals at Colchester Zoo were busy celebrating in their own way as 2022 commenced.

Zoo bosses are promising another lively year amid what they say is to be an “exciting” one with plenty of new arrivals.

It follows a tough 2021 for the attraction which saw the death of Igor, its popular Amur tiger and difficulties brought on by Covid-19.

A zoo spokesman said it is still experiencing the “hardship and continued struggle from the pandemic” but insisted the care of its animals has always continued.

He added: “We are looking forward to a brighter year ahead, filled with new arrivals, exciting developments and the expansion of an ever-evolving Colchester Zoo family.”

It follows Colchester Zoo revealing it cares for 184 unique species following a head count of its much-loved animals.

The study showed it hosts more than 1,200 individual animals, colonies and groups of fish, reptiles, and other smaller species within its gates.

The total number of species it plays home to is made up of 68 mammals, 47 fish, 19 birds, 34 reptiles, nine invertebrates and seven amphibians.

The zoo’s animal care team and animal records department are now working to collate all the final figures and will submit the data to a central database, as well as to the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

The zoo spokesman continued: “Many of our larger animals can be easily counted, however, there are some species, such as our many shoals of fish, birds and insect species, that are counted as a group rather than as individuals.

“As you can imagine, counting hundreds of moving fish would be impossible.”

Other departures from the zoo in 2021 included transfers to collections around the world to become part of breeding programmes, such as male Amur leopard, Luka, who was born as part of a successful breeding pair in Colchester in 2019.

There was also the arrival of many newborns, including five gelada offspring, golden lion tamarin twins, and a squirrel monkey baby.