Series Premiere: Episode 1/20

The documentary strand profiling life at one of Britain’s busiest zoos returns. Konnie Huq presents the series from Colchester Zoo, where 2,500 animals live under the care of a dedicated team of keepers.

Colchester Zoo boasts 270 different species and plays host to more than half a million visitors every year. The zoo’s team is involved in pioneering research and is at the forefront of some exciting conservation projects, working to ensure the survival of some of the rarest animals on the planet. Supported by zoo and wildlife vet John Lewis, curators Clive Barwick and Sarah Forsyth head up a team of 60 keepers – all experts in their field with a passion for animal welfare to match.

In the first episode of the new run on Monday, zoo director Anthony Tropeano steps in to save a newborn cheetah cub abandoned by its mother. The cub requires round-the-clock care and Anthony knows he is in for some sleepless nights. Elsewhere, the marine mammal keepers get a sea lion’s-eye view of Colchester Zoo when they don their scuba gear for a spot of underwater window cleaning.

In Tuesday’s instalment, Anthony has concerns for the newborn cheetah cub he is hand rearing. Vet John Lewis gives some expert medical advice before attending to Jasmine, a harbour seal with an infected eye. The zoo’s elephants have a game of football and the team prepares for the arrival of a baby giraffe from Longleat.

There is sadness on Wednesday when rare African hunting dog Depti leaves Colchester to begin a new life overseas. Meanwhile, the keepers are nervous when they have to get to grips with a giant anteater. Zookeepers have been killed by these incredibly powerful creatures in the past, so the mood is understandably tense. Will the procedure go smoothly?

Thursday’s programme catches up with mangabey monkey Sputnik, who is rapidly earning a reputation for his bully boy antics. After ousting a mob of mongooses from his enclosure earlier in the year, he turns his attention to his own troop – leaving the keepers to pick up the pieces. Elsewhere, the team’s attempts to listen to a rare leopard’s heartbeat are foiled by an unexpected problem.

Friday’s instalment features drama at the white rhino house. The keepers are hoping that female white rhino Cynthia will be the first in the UK to have a baby born through artificial insemination. Male rhino Simba has to be anaesthetised to play his part in the process, but when he fails to come round, the team is forced to spring into action.

About the author

  • BBC One
  • BBC Two
  • BBC Three
  • ITV1
  • ITV2
  • 4
  • E4
  • Film4
  • More4
  • Five
  • Fiver
  • Sky1