TV Times – 03 August 2019

(Axel Boer) #1


‘There’s been enormous excitement
over the koalas’ arrival from
Australia. Southern koalas
are quirky, bigger and
hairier! They’re not
behind glass here, so
you see them in trees
doing their koala
thing and sense their
individual characters.
‘But they’re
challenging. They’re a
genetically poor population,
so they have illnesses they’re
less resilient to, including kidney
diseases. We sadly lost Wilpena, one
of the five koalas who came, which
was devastating for the keepers.’

‘The wolf pack dynamic is truly
fascinating. There’s some wrangling
and there were signs the dominant
female, Eliska, was pregnant. We
created a den for her with
straw and camel hair and
put a camera in to film
the birth. But did Eliska
den there? Did she
heck! It was wolf hide-
and-seek! But we had a
camera on a tree stump
and there are six babies.
‘Jango the male is
hilarious. He wants to be
mum and keeps thinking,
“Could I have this one?”
and Eliska’s thinking,
“Put it down!”’

‘The sea lions have an
easy life so we wanted
to make them work
harder for their fish!
One of the Longleat
building team made
a giant catapult to
chuck fish across the
lake. It was great fun
spending an afternoon
firing mackerel. But
the sea lions are clever, so
rather than starting on the
shore, they just stayed where
the mackerel ended up.’

‘Inny and Gordito had been partnered
and separated at another collection
but now they’ve been reunited
here and it was instant
Brazilian love! They can’t
keep their paws off each
other although they’re
practically past it. We
wanted to see if Inny’s
pregnant so we used a
thermal imaging camera,
and she’s either ovulating
or pregnant. She’s definitely
tubbier. But she might just be getting
more fish because Gordito’s generous

  • that’s the way to a woman’s heart!’

‘The colobus monkeys have moved
to the island where Nico [Longleat’s
veteran gorilla, who sadly died last
year] lived. I still can’t talk about Nico
without crying, so it was a big deal
seeing the new occupants. They’re
so charismatic and agile. But they’ve
caused the keepers consternation
about whether they could swim across
the lake. One tried but was persuaded
back and now they’re settling in well.’

‘Harry’s the young male in one pride
and we wanted to ensure he won
the females’ respect. We gave them
a carcass to eat, as that’s how you
see the hierarchy because,
annoyingly, the girls do the
hunting but the boys get
first pickings! Harry
wasn’t chased off by the
females, but got in first
and dictated who
fed. He’s very
handsome so it’s
nice to know
he’s not all
looks – he
wears the
trousers too!’


The presenter on her favourite
Longleat residents...

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