A new documentary series kicks off on Channel 4 tonight, revealing the secret life of the animals of Chester Zoo, one of Britain's most popular zoos.
Turns out that keeping up with Joneses isn't reserved to us humble folk, the posh are at it too and then some.
AN enchanting new documentary series introduces us to the residents of one of Britain’s most popular zoos. PHProud mum Thi Hi Way with her one-week-old calf, NanditaDealing with gangly giraffes, mischievous meerkats and pregnant elephants is all part of daily life for the zookeepers at Chester Zoo.
Bala, an Asian elephant calf, grew rapidly ill and eventually died from elephant endotheliotropic herpes virus (or EEHV).
Other diseases, breeding, and a move to a new location can bring on the illness, while changes in the herd dynamic caused by pregnancy or introducing a new animal are also very stressful for elephants. Losing Bala has been devastating for the staff at Chester Zoo, as well as the remaining members of the herd.
The decision about whether or not to continue breeding has been debated by the ethics committee at Chester Zoo, and is something Jordan feels strongly about. Does a bizarre new fan theory finally reveal the true identity of Star Wars villain Supreme Leader Snoke? Whilst tracking in the park there were many tracks and signs of tigers but no sightings, but in the second week in the mid-afternoon, we came across a fork in the road and as we turned left, there right in front of us was a tigress with her 3 adolescent cubs, just laying out in the middle of the road soaking up the sun!
Much of what is learnt about this species in captivity can be useful in the wild and vice versa, for example tooth eruption is an accurate way of aging young orangutans – this knowledge learned from our orangutans can help to estimate the ages of orphaned orangutans in the wild.
In 2014 I visited one of the quarantine centres in Medan, Java where orphaned orangutans are cared for immediately after rescue and also one of the release sites for Sumatran orangutan.
Once the infant orangutans have been rehabilitated at the quarantine facility they are then transported to one of the release sites and transferred to soft release enclosures. The youngsters are then given time to acclimatise to their new environment and the enclosures are opened and the individuals are free to explore.
Wildlife Connections is a NEW project led by Chester Zoo to create safe spaces for our most precious local wildlife. We use cookies to enhance your visit to our site and to bring you advertisements that might interest you. As The Secret Life of the Zoo reaches its final episode, we’ll be sad to say goodbye to the staff and the adorable animals of Chester Zoo. The series has proved a welcome pick-me-up each week, shedding light on delightful births, sad deaths, and everything in between. In this last episode of the series, the staff take on a job that sounds like the set-up to a joke: taking part in the annual bat census.
It’s a task that proves as arduous as it sounds – each bat in the enclosure must be caught so that they can keep track of how many new arrivals there have been in the past year.
Unless a second series of this charming documentary series is commissioned, the next best thing will be a trip to Chester Zoo itself. Back in Time for the Weekend, BBC2“Back in Time for the Weekend was your average, squeaky-clean educational BBC2 show, but with a bit of fun thrown in to boot. They use new micro-rig technology to capture the behaviour of the animals and their close relationships with their keeper, with the first episode showing the zoo's Asian elephant family welcome a new arrival.


She is just the latest casualty of a deadly, mysterious disease that is killing Asian elephants in captivity. Dr Jonathan Cracknell, a leading world expert in the disease and the current director of animal operations at Longleat, likens it to herpes in humans.
I have always been fascinated by wildlife ever since I was a child, and spent a lot of time around animals. We watched them for what could have been hours but they soon moved off and disappeared into the bush. I feel incredibly lucky being able to work with such interesting species, most people never get to see these animals other than on documentaries which is one of the reasons I feel zoos are so important.
The passion of the team here is something I am incredibly proud to be a part of, we are very lucky to have the facilities we have here at Chester but the continual push to improve and evolve in every area of animal husbandry really makes the difference. I’ve been lucky enough visit Java and Sumatra in recent years with the Orangutan Veterinary Advisory Group (OVAG) which is an umbrella organisation which brings together vets and wildlife professionals from various orangutan conservancy bodies across Indonesia and Borneo and the wider world to share their skills and knowledge in the fight to conserve both Bornean and Sumatran orangutans.
Unfortunately, many orangutans are under huge pressure from habitat loss due to human pressures, palm oil plantations being one of the major contributing factors. The release site was in an area in the north of Sumatra in Aceh which contains areas of prime forest with an abundant supply of fruits, edible vegetation and fresh water supply which is stable throughout the year.
When you consider the some of the situations these animals have been removed from prior to rehabilitation, the transformation really is remarkable, it was a real privilege to see it first-hand.
I am relieved not to be chained to the sink, although the thought of meeting someone at a dance instead of on Tinder does seem rather charming.”Daisy Wyatt, The Independent“This six-part series has a clever double appeal.
By advertising with us, you are guaranteed to reach the industry’s key decision makers and keep your business in the forefront of their minds when planning their purchasing decisions. With up-to-the minute industry news, unrivalled analysis and commentary, insider industry information and business critical data. Grumpy matriarch Thi has been pregnant for almost two years and is reaching the end of her tether. But the disease poses one of the biggest threats to Asian elephants in captivity, and has killed 11 in the UK since 1995.
The symptoms develop fast, and include lethargy, a loss of appetite, a change in attitude, and a bruised tongue. Asian elephants are an endangered species, and rely on the breeding programmes of zoos and research undertaken in captivity to keep the population viable. As an adult I have been lucky enough to travel extensively to see many species in there wild environment across Asia, Africa and North America. Something just clicked and I realised I really would like to become involved and decided to change my career, best decision I ever made. The work Chester Zoo does in educating people in sustainable palm oil is vitally important to ensure this crop is managed sustainably in order to protect the forest.
For younger viewers, there’s the fun of seeing a very 21st-century family-of-four survive without TV or internet. With exclusive access to the industry’s innovators we tell you what’s being made, who’s making it, and when. With only 43 Asian elephants in British zoos at present, the disease is taking a huge toll.


When this stops, there is a period when their immune systems are still developing and more susceptible to disease.
Bringing elephants in from the wild is deemed unethical, so breeding them in captivity is our only way to study the animals and try to ensure the species’s survival. When I was around 25 I visited Ranthambore National park in India, the wildlife there was amazing and I remember being shocked at seeing peacocks which sounds really stupid now! I suppose the biggest one most recently is the successful move of the orangutans and Sulawesi crested macaques into their new homes, it all went incredibly smoothly with the minimum of stress and seeing how well everyone is settling in is really great to see. But you didn’t have to remember the Fifties to think how satisfying that life looked.”Christopher Stevens, Daily Mail“By suggesting that kitchens were full of people standing for the national anthem and that church attendance was all but compulsory, the producers poked the radical Ashby-Hawkins with sticks intended to make them squeal. With a gestation period of two years, elephant births are still relatively rare – and are cherished and celebrated, as we saw in the first episode of The Secret Life of the Zoo with the birth of Nandita. Cameos by Ann Widdecombe as a Sunday school teacher and Angela Rippon as an equally strict dance instructor provided further evidence that this (still good) series is coarsening.”Andrew Billen, The Times“The Ashby Hawkins family were excellent – game, and funny about everything they have to do. But the show was criticised for not raising the stakes high enough, making a mockery of the whole thing. Cameras also follow Red panda Jung, who has been getting the cold shoulder from his partner Nima since they had two cubs. Along with meerkats, her current charges are aardvarks, sloths, giant anteaters and mongooses.
Actually, that would probably work.”Sam Wollaston, The Guardian“The beauty of the previous series was that food was just the portal, the entry-point to exploring the whole package of bygone family life. Superman from ITV’s The New Adventures of Superman, swagger about in red and blue lycra (he jokes about being Superman with a commendable sense of self-deprecating humour), but the format itself, hosted (of course) by Davina McCall, is depressingly predictable. When people come to the zoo in daytime, they only see the aardvarks asleep and will sometimes make comments that they’re boring or lazy.
Nevertheless, the programme contained some fantastic footage and a few - too few – moments to rival the best of nature documentaries.”Chris Bennion, The Telegraph“Most of the hour was taken up with an elephant in labour.
In fact, such is Kirsten and her colleagues’ indifference to them, that the matriarch meerkat mum of so many babies hasn’t even been given a name; she’s just got a microchip. There’s an impressive balance to the programme, which allows us to see both the insecurity behind the troubling extremes and the awareness the subjects have about their own fixation.
The Secret Life of the Zoo follows Channel 4’s fantastic The Secret Life of 4, 5 and 6 Year Olds, which used its hidden cameras and team of experts to shed real insight into the development of children. The footage of creatures in the pens is great; the problem is that the accompanying commentary projects all kinds of human emotions onto the cuddly tykes. Nonetheless, the chance to see the behind-the-scenes goings-on at a zoo regularly fascinates. However, this is an independent publication: we take care not to let commercial relationships dictate the editorial stance of content or the writing staff. Sign up to the UK's only VOD newsletterNever miss a Netflix release: keep up-to-date with the latest news, reviews and what's coming soon.Never display this againSign me up!



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