16 TV TIMES
ate Humble is making
TV Times – and Ben
Fogle – very jealous!
We’re at Longleat
Safari Park in Wiltshire
watching the pair film the 1 4 th series
of BBC1’s much-loved fly-on-the-
enclosure series Animal Park.
After the presenters and a keeper
have waited for a shy red panda to
come nearer to the camera, a thrilled
Kate can’t wait to come over and tell us
how, earlier in the day, she got to hug
one of the group of Southern koalas
who have recently made Longleat their
home and are the only ones of their
species in Europe.
‘They’re adorable and the hug
was purely for veterinary purposes,
obviously!’ grins Kate, 50.
‘I didn’t get to hug one – Kate always
grabs the best jobs!’ adds Ben, 4 5,
pulling a mock scowl.
The super-cute marsupials, which
a lucky TV Times meets later in the day
- but sadly can’t cuddle! – are just one
of the fascinating stories featured in
the new series. Here, Ben and Kate
tell us what to expect...
Is there plenty of drama this year?
Kate: There are births, deaths and
escapees. Who needs Killing Eve?! You
don’t have to come up with jeopardy
or love interests, it’s all there. There’s
something this time I can’t reveal but
it made me think, ‘That was worth
getting out of bed for!’ Fantastic stuff
surprises us every year.
What new animals do you meet?
Ben: Apart from the koalas, which
are magical, today I’ve also seen at
least three other animals I’d never
encountered before, like the Cuban
crocodile, the American porcupine
and I hadn’t even heard of the potoroo
[a small marsupial].
Have you learnt any new skills?
Ben: We’re experts in all sorts! There’s
no ‘hands off ’ on Animal Park – we get
our hands mucky.
Kate: Yes, because we’ve both been here
for so long, we’re trusted to be useful.
I’ve held a baby giant anteater called
Bella while they worked out her sex and
Bella is now Basil! So, if anyone has one
and they’re not sure of the sex, call me!
Are the animals behaving
themselves for the cameras?!
Ben: Of course not! We’ve skipped
filming marmosets today because one
was looking at me and thinking, ‘No
way!’ It wouldn’t be as enjoyable if
everyone played ball.
What do you love about returning
to Longleat each year?
Kate: The tea! No, it’s just lovely to
see what’s happened and this time we
revisit the likes of Xena the cheetah
and Red the tiger. But it’s also like a
family gathering with the keepers.
Ben: Yes, there’s familiarity and Kate
and I are great friends – I have to say
that! We lead such busy lives, this is a
guaranteed moment when we catch up
and pretend we’re 20 years younger!
ANIMAL PARK IS PREVIEWED ON
MONDAY-FRIDAY / BBC1 / 9.15AM
As TV Times visits Animal Park, Kate
Humble and Ben Fogle tell us why they’ve
fallen in love with Longleat’s new residents