Drama in the Elephant House

The documentary series following daily life at Britain’s biggest zoo continues this week. Chester Zoo is home to 7,000 animals from 400 species and is visited by more than a million people each year. The zoo has some of the most experienced keepers in the business, working alongside a full-time veterinary team with a fully equipped animal hospital on site.

From day to day, vets Steve Unwin and James Chatterton never know what to expect. They may be called upon to anaesthetise an Indonesian babirusa pig so he can have his tusks trimmed, or they may have to operate on dangerous and cunning mandrills. It is all in a day’s work for the vets and veterinary nurses based at the zoo’s Animal Health Centre – who sometimes admit to knowing more about the animals in their care than they do about members of their own family. The series is narrated by actress Jane Horrocks.

In Monday’s episode, there is drama at the elephant house when bull elephant Upali takes a fancy to a young female. Also looking for love is Tuan, the zoo’s new male orang-utan, who has just cleared quarantine and is free to mingle.

Nerves are jangling in Tuesday’s instalment, when the head keeper of reptiles, Isolde McGeorge, introduces male Komodo dragon Norman to Nessie, a potential mate. And Majene, the Indonesian babirusa pig, is pregnant.

On Wednesday, a new baby giraffe is born at the zoo, but she is the smallest head keeper Tim Rowlands has ever seen. Tim will have his work cut out if the baby is to survive. Elsewhere, Tuan proves a hit with the ladies.

Tim Rowlands is forced to make a critical decision in Thursday’s edition, as he holds the future of the zoo’s new baby giraffe in his hands. Plus, keeper Wayne McLeod must take a plunge into the icy waters of Flamingo Lake to ensure that his population of birds is keeping safe.

And in Friday’s instalment, the staff prepare to say goodbye to Tejas the lion cub. The zoo’s number one attraction is about to leave for his new home in France. At the same time, the keepers are getting ready to welcome an exciting new arrival –a rhino from Switzerland.

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