Zoo Keeper Rhod Gilbert's Work Experience


Zoo Keeper

Stand-up comedian Rhod Gilbert tries his hand at zoo keeping at Welsh Mountain Zoo, North Wales, and learns the realities of modern day exotic animal care.


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Transcript


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THIS PROGRAMME CONTAINS SOME STRONG LANGUAGE.

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I'm Rhod Gilbert, stand-up comedian. I'm ditching my regular job

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and trying something completely different.

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This is my work experience.

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And this week, I'm a zoo keeper.

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I had no idea how to prepare for being a zoo keeper.

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The closest I've come to working with animals

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is hoovering round my mum's cat.

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So, I set off in search of our four-legged friends.

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That's animals, not tables.

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The scent of exotic dung took me

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to the North Wales Mountain Zoo in Colwyn Bay.

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Where 69 species of animal,

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and one species of visiting public was waiting for me.

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Not quite sure what to expect from a mountain zoo.

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A couple of goats, a climbing pig,

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a goldfish that's forgotten its natural habitat.

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-I dunno, what is a mountain zoo?

-BIRD SQUAWKS

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Is he talking to me?

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I never really saw what the big deal was about Dr Doolittle.

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"He can talk to the animals." Anyone can talk to the animals.

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Hello. It's getting them to talk back, that's the tricky bit.

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My grandma used to talk to cutlery. Nobody called her a doctor.

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Well, they did, but he just sedated her. Life goes on.

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First job, find the head zoo keeper. Pete was to the zoo,

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what Keith Harris's hand was to Orville.

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He knew it inside out. With many deadly animals around, and myths

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of what to do in the event of an attack,

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finally, some serious advice from an expert.

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All of the staff need to know what to do if an animal escapes.

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Now, a category one animal, which is our most dangerous,

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if you like, things like the chimpanzee, tiger,

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the procedure for that is just to hide.

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I know that sounds daft!

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Sorry. When it said, "escape procedure," it means hide?

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It's to go and hide yourself away, somewhere safe.

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The chimps won't count to 10 before they come after you?

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-Where are you going to hide?

-You've to be calm about this. You've got to walk away.

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If a tiger escapes, I tell you now,

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there's no way I'm going to be keeping calm.

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The one word safety briefing hadn't filled me with confidence.

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It sounded like extreme hide and seek.

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But anyone with a file with "zoo" written on it must really know their shit.

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And I felt a lot safer when he gave me a tiger resistant fleece.

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Got the uniform on. Bona fide zoo keeper.

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Quite excited about this,

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a little bit nervous of a category one escape, but still.

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To reassure me even further,

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Pete had the latest in high-tech safety equipment.

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It's just a referee's whistle. We use this as a call for help, basically.

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-Could be an escaped animal, could be that there is a fire.

-Right.

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SHORT PEEP

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That's for a small fire.

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LONG PEEP

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Tiger's escaped. You should know that.

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If a chimp or a tiger did escape, I'd just blow my whistle

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and tell them they were offside.

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I was ready for a whistle-stop tour. What is it? A snow leopard?

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-A snow leopard, yeah.

-It looks so strokeable.

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They will mate 20 or 30 times a day, but for only about three days a year.

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Well, I think we've all done that.

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Get it over with in a batch, that's what I do.

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Some people are passionate about lizards and snakes,

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as some people are passionate about cats.

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-It's just the more reptile people.

-It's a bit odd, isn't it?

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I must be a bit odd then, because I've got some of these.

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I'm definitely not a tortoise person.

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Part of the problem of being a tortoise, you can see, that one's been to the toilet,

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and because they're so slow, he still hasn't got away from it yet.

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-What kind of penguins are these then?

-These are Humboldt penguins.

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-One of the rarest penguins.

-Are they shivering?

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They're not shivering as we would know, for the cold.

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There's something going on, they're slightly nervous.

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-Because there's a new keeper in town.

-Yeah, probably.

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They're not going to recognise you straight away, obviously.

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What? Don't they watch telly?

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-That seagull up on the roof there, is he part of the zoo?

-No.

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-Or is he visiting?

-This is Gus, male Andean condor.

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-Oh, my God!

-It's a big bird.

-Oh, I almost had my whistle out then.

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Tamarins, which are these little South American primates.

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-What the hell is that? That is a little monkey person. Have you dressed them up?

-No, no, that's it.

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It looks like you've put them in little wigs and moustaches.

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Go and have a look at the spider monkey.

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God, that is a weird looking thing, isn't it? It's quite camp.

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It's got quite a camp run. Look at that!

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Males are very difficult to sex when they're all fluffy, cos you can't see anything.

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We've all made those mistakes. There's more to zoo keeping than looking at knobs.

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One of those zoo's most popular shows was Chimpanzee World.

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Think World Of Leather, but with better furniture,

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and more knowledgeable staff.

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Zoe, the zoo's resident chimp whisperer, usually did the shows,

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and introduced me to everyone.

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So, this is Groat at the feeding chute, at the moment here.

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We've got Katie here, who's having a snooze herself, and her sister, Jill, up at the top here.

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How can you tell them apart?

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You do spend a lot of time with them,

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it is like looking at a group of people,

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and you do recognise their facial features very easily.

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-Those are as different to you as we are to me?

-Yeah, absolutely.

-Really?

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-Who's this fella?

-This is Jasper. He's just saying,

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"Come on, give me some more!"

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He's going bonkers.

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Because he's never usually allowed to get to the feeding chute,

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because it's all about hierarchy here.

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This type of thing, you'll be doing on Thursday.

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So, it's just a case of trying to learn all of the chimps.

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The public won't know, I'll just make it up.

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I was worried. You could fit everything I know about chimps on the back of a teabag,

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and call me chimpist, but they all look the same to me.

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-How long does it take to get to know them all?

-It took me a few weeks,

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probably about a month in total.

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What would they do if you went in there?

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-You would be lucky if you got out alive, I think.

-Really?

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-They'd just rip you to bits?

-Yeah.

-The glass is cracked down there.

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Luckily this is double-paned, bullet-proof glass.

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He's smashed bullet-proof glass?

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Yeah. It's just wear and tear over time. They're so fascinating.

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-They are wonderful.

-I thought that was one of them coming out then!

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-I thought, "Oh, Christ, he's got..."

-It's all right, it's only Becky.

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He's ignored the no exit sign, and he's coming out.

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Great, I had to get to know 11 bullet-proof, glass smashing ninja chimps in two days.

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If that wasn't enough, Pete dropped another bombshell at the sea lion enclosure.

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You have to watch this carefully, because tomorrow,

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or the next day, you'll be feeding, and hopefully training the sea lions.

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-What will I be able to get a sea lion to do?

-Probably balance a ball.

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Probably to get a kiss. Maybe a handshake.

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I'll just do the ball, I think.

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Pete wanted me to work with the zoo's

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sofa-sized Californian sea lion, Cousteau.

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A couple of mints wouldn't go amiss.

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Zoe and Cousteau's well-rehearsed and choreographed display

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had taken years to perfect, but in two days, I'd be his new partner.

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Cousteau was a 50-stone S&M gimp with breath like a sardine's bidet,

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and whiskers like the hairs on Peter Stringfellow's bath mat.

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I can't imagine doing this at all.

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That's not intelligent, that's stupid.

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He had the whole pool to swim in,

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and he managed to get trapped in all three rings.

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How do you do it? There's no way I can do that. There's not a chance.

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No, I think it's doable, but it is going to be difficult.

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How long does it take to get that kind of relationship?

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Probably about two years.

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They won't be completely comfortable with you, vice versa,

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but they will do it.

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Cousteau may do it, but I'd rather pull my pants down in the chimp enclosure and shout,

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"Who's next at the feeding chute?" than get in there with him.

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Sensing I was bricking it about the chimp and gimp shows, Zoe gave me an idiot-proof one to start me off.

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The daily penguin parade. Chimp show, there's a lot to learn.

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The sea lion show, there's a lot of training to learn and stuff, this,

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apparently, you just walk out with a bucket of fish, and they follow you.

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This is a gentle introduction to the public side of zoo keeping.

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Apparently, nothing could go wrong.

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With a bucket of fish I'd be the Pied Penguin Piper.

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As long as I didn't look back and scare them, they'd follow me.

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If you look to the right hand side of the arena,

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you'll start to see Rhod bringing out

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our lovely group of Humboldt penguins.

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It's OK, keep coming,

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they'll hopefully follow us in just a minute.

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If you don't want to become extinct, you little shits,

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you follow me out there, there's people who've paid to see a parade,

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and that's what they'll get.

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I know we're all tired. Come on then, come on.

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-Are they coming? Are they there?

-No.

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SHE LAUGHS

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Looks like Rhod's given up on them as well.

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I'm not giving up, I'm going to get violent! There's a crowd of people there. I'm dying on my arse.

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-You can't knock his efforts here for trying.

-Let's go. Let's go.

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-For

-BLEEP

-sake. What is this shit?

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Come on. It's going ahead anyway.

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You can do the parade by yourself.

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You don't need any penguins, that's fine, you carry on.

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Rhod has done a fantastic job here for us this afternoon,

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trying to be a very good penguin.

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That's a lovely penguin impression as well.

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It was the worst penguin show since my auntie fired

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a chocolate biscuit out of her nether regions

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in Newport Rugby Club.

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I was tempted to p-p-pick up a p-p-pissing penguin

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and p-p-push him off a cliff.

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You left me looking a right dick up there.

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50 people standing there, paid for a penguin parade, what have they got?

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Me wandering around with a bucket full of fish.

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You think that's worth £8.95?

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10 years apparently, they've been training for this! 10 years.

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Every day they walk out there and back.

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I'd never had my confidence shattered so badly by a penguin.

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To rebuild it, Pete planned to pack my next day

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-as tightly as Cousteau's Speedos.

-Busy day tomorrow.

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I think first thing we've got to move the baby camel, knock out two horses,

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feed and clean a tiger, feed and clean the bears.

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It's like a Rolf Harris wet dream, isn't it?

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I'm looking forward to getting a little bit more involved,

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a little bit more hands-on, a little bit more of me doing, rather than me watching.

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I have got to learn all the chimps' names and what they look like.

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I don't want to be rude to chimps, I can see absolutely no discernible difference.

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Some of these animals look friendly, but they're actually pretty nasty.

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They want me to kiss Cousteau, the sea lion. I'm not particularly looking forward to that.

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There's a little bit of nerves and trepidation

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because it could all go horribly wrong.

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My hands-on day. Zoo keeper talk for shovelling shit.

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With my trusty safety whistle in my pocket, it was time to get more intimate with the animals.

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This is the macaw moverer, AKA, broom-handle.

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You sit on the fence.

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And we're off. It's bloody heavy!

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It's like a surreal version of Britain's Strongest Man, this is.

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This should only take literally seconds to get into the horsebox.

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Just be aware that it can kick, it can bite, possibly spit.

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Jesus Christ on a bike!

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-Have you ever been bitten by one of these?

-Yeah.

-Yes?

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Honestly, I will level with you, I was expecting a no there.

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I was expecting, "No, they don't bite." I do not like it.

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-So, what have I got...

-These are all muscle.

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Well, they are winning me around a bit, but I still think he's a dick.

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But I quite like him now.

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My confidence was soaring.

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I'd fondled a python, and stood up to the zoo's killer goat.

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So, Pete decided I was ready to feed some more deadly animals.

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We headed to the kitchens of the zoo's on-site KFC.

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I'm not quite sure what those are.

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There's quail.

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-That's quite posh, quail?

-Uncooked posh quail.

-I've never had it.

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-Who's having it?

-We're going to give it to the tiger.

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-Do you cook it, or does he have his raw?

-Oh, it's all raw, yeah!

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-Oh, what's that that's come out there?

-Oh, that's an unshelled egg.

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Cooking is all about presentation.

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This raw bird recipe might not look great, but stick Nigella Lawson in a low-cut top next to it

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and it'll look like sticky toffee pudding.

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The Frosties advert would be a lot less appealing

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if it was showing me doing this, and a tiger going, "They're great!"

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You can see why, for kids, it just wouldn't sell.

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The party bucket was for an inmate in category one,

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solitary confinement.

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His name alone struck terror into all that heard it.

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Bryn!

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Bryn, Bryn, Bryn!

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He's the most majestic thing I've ever seen, and his name is Bryn!

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Honestly, you might as well have called him Clive.

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Hang on, Bryn.

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Oh, my God.

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This is so much more impressive then when my mother feeds our cat.

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Puss, puss, puss, puss. Oh, Christ!

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Oh!

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That was the egg yolk bursting in my face.

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Do you know, normally, I really like a runny yolk!

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I was about to give Bryn a good kicking when Tom brought news

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the bears were having a picnic.

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It's a little-known fact wild bears are keen bakers,

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so Tom and I rustled up the bare necessities.

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Before we go in, I need to lock the bears into there. Into their pits.

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Because we don't go in with the category one animals.

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If you're not back here in five, I'll blow the whistle, yeah?

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-Yeah, if you hear screaming then I won't either.

-Yeah.

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I've got to hide this food around their thing. Basically, in the wild they forage for food,

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so, I think we've got to try and replicate that in there.

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So, I'm already thinking, where can I hide a Bakewell Slice?

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It's your ideas to improve the animal's life,

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and make it as natural as possible.

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Just shove them in there.

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Oh, right, yeah. I'll put a strawberry in here.

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Yeah, you can put a strawberry in there.

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You can put grapes on top of here, if you want.

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This is like having kids!

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Chains through there, and had stuff coming off,

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so it's like a bear mobile.

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It's a right laugh being a bear. My mother used to do this with a treasure hunt.

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Exactly like this. What's the date on these? Want a bit?

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-No, I'm good, thanks.

-I need to hide my plums somewhere.

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I want the bear, basically, to look around for a while,

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and then find my plums and then explode with excitement.

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With my plums jammed firmly under a rock, the bears were released.

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Just such beautiful, powerful creatures.

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I wonder which one will find my plums first?

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Look at that!

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There's two of them now, circling my plums.

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They've passed them over.

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I've just realised how bad all of that plum stuff sounds.

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All I meant was I was looking forward to seeing them claw

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into the soft flesh of my... Oh, God, sorry.

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Feeding plums and almond slices to bears was a picnic.

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My next feeding job was barely bearable.

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Feeding live locusts to the freaky monkey people freaks.

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That's the most revolting thing I've ever done in my life,

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holding a live locust to be eaten by a freaky monkey little... shit.

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Quick, please! Take it!

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This, in my hand here. Quick.

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Oh, somebody!

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He had better hurry up or I'm going to throw up.

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You horrible little freaky monkey person. Come on.

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Freaky monkey person trapped in a monkey's body! Urgh!

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'While the freaks sucked out the warm insides of their locust lollipops, I did a runner.

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'To cheer me up, Tom had a job he said was simples.'

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First off, how do you catch a meerkat?

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Ever caught polecats before? Or any small mammal?

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You know as you grab them round the back of their head,

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-then you hold...

-I have never caught a polecat, so...

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'I haven't smelt anything this bad since I borrowed Charlie Sheen's sleeping bag.'

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The air is dense, the air is thick with the smell of urine.

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It is like a cat's piss jam that's been boiled down.

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It's how they mark out their territory.

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Well, their territory is safe, honestly. They can stop marking.

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-Shall I go in?

-Yes. You make your way in.

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You want to move slowly, we don't want to cause a mass panic.

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And the speed that they run and my lack of any clue

0:16:060:16:08

of what I'm doing. It is like a fairground attraction.

0:16:080:16:12

It's like Whack The Rat, only Catch The Meerkat.

0:16:120:16:16

-Whoa!

-There we go.

0:16:220:16:24

God, look at them. Get a couple up there, surely.

0:16:240:16:27

HE LAUGHS

0:16:270:16:30

Yes. Get in!

0:16:310:16:34

Whoo-o-o-oa!

0:16:340:16:36

-It either goes right or it doesn't go right.

-(That was my fault.)

0:16:390:16:42

'I had scored an impressive seven in Bag A Meerkat.

0:16:420:16:45

'But the next game was a Shoot 'Em Up.'

0:16:450:16:48

-Let's go and shoot these otters, shall we, Peter?

-Right.

0:16:480:16:51

-Tranquillisers.

-Yes.

-Am I going to shoot one?

-No.

0:16:510:16:54

'Only a fool would ask these wild Mongolian horses why they had a long face.

0:16:550:17:00

'Firstly they were Mongolian and spoke limited English. Secondly, they faced extinction.'

0:17:000:17:04

If you see a dart lying on the floor,

0:17:040:17:06

don't pick it up, just leave it.

0:17:060:17:07

Literally a drop of it into an open wound would kill a primate. And we are primates.

0:17:070:17:12

It's quite dangerous.

0:17:120:17:14

I have had quite a lot of ketamine.

0:17:140:17:16

THEY LAUGH

0:17:160:17:17

I haven't. I haven't.

0:17:190:17:21

We have got to get one of them down to trim his hooves.

0:17:210:17:24

But apparently the others get a bit frisky while that is happening.

0:17:240:17:28

This could be another panic moment for me.

0:17:280:17:30

'Pete explained that the problem with the mountain zoo was that the animals were all on a slope.

0:17:320:17:38

'We had to shorten their legs on one side to help them stand up straight.'

0:17:380:17:42

In terms of the conservation effort, there were how many of these left?

0:17:420:17:46

-It was down to just a dozen or so.

-Right.

-Something like that.

0:17:460:17:49

They were all taken into various zoos and then slowly got the numbers up to probably several thousand now.

0:17:490:17:55

At least we have got animals in zoos, so that if ever needed, and I think they probably will be,

0:17:550:18:00

they will be there to go back in the wild.

0:18:000:18:04

'These horses have been saved from extinction by zoo keepers like Pete.

0:18:040:18:08

'And from falling over by leg trimmers like me.'

0:18:080:18:10

It will be nice to see him back on his feet.

0:18:100:18:13

Wow!

0:18:130:18:14

Everybody else is blase about this,

0:18:140:18:17

but I really wanted to clap then.

0:18:170:18:19

I thought, I am like an American on a plane.

0:18:190:18:21

'His new stumps were a success.

0:18:210:18:23

'He could gallop freely round the slopey zoo,

0:18:230:18:25

'as long as he didn't try and go back the other way, he'd be fine.

0:18:250:18:30

'I was still worried about the shows I had to do the next day.

0:18:300:18:33

'My main fear was getting up close to the massive, fish-stained gimp, Cousteau.

0:18:330:18:37

'So Pete took me to meet a portable travel version, washed up on a nearby beach.'

0:18:370:18:42

Look at how cute he is.

0:18:430:18:44

So this is one of the grey seals that was washed up off the North Wales coast.

0:18:450:18:51

They can be very aggressive. Very sharp teeth, full of bacteria.

0:18:510:18:54

To restrain this, it would probably take two or three people, honestly.

0:18:540:19:00

You wouldn't think so,

0:19:000:19:02

but they're really incredibly strong and powerful.

0:19:020:19:05

'He was no taller than a loaf of bread,

0:19:050:19:07

'but apparently if it all kicked off, this 10-inch mini-gimp could be a right flipper-full.

0:19:070:19:11

'He was well enough to go home.

0:19:110:19:13

'Sweeping him into a cage, chucking him in the back of a van

0:19:130:19:16

'and driving him to a deserted beach reminded me of childhood family holidays in Wales.'

0:19:160:19:22

We have come down to Penrhyn Bay

0:19:220:19:23

on the North Wales coast to release this seal.

0:19:230:19:28

Hopefully, he will go in there. Is this what zoo keeping is all about?

0:19:280:19:33

It's what it is partly about.

0:19:330:19:34

This is the really nice bit, the immediate bit.

0:19:340:19:37

Conservation is more long-term, you might be looking at five years,

0:19:370:19:42

10 years, 50 year, 100 years.

0:19:420:19:43

So this is quite nice in the short term. This is the ultimate end.

0:19:430:19:47

Brilliant. OK. Let's go and lob him in the sea then.

0:19:470:19:50

-So what are his chances of survival?

-Pretty good. Probably about 50/50.

0:19:540:20:00

-Is that pretty good, is it?

-That is excellent, really.

0:20:000:20:03

Point him the right way.

0:20:040:20:06

Right, Roger, are you ready?

0:20:070:20:09

Come on, Roger. Out you come.

0:20:090:20:13

Go on, Roger.

0:20:190:20:22

Look at that.

0:20:220:20:24

I think people have this sort of fantasy of what wild is

0:20:260:20:29

all about, they're free in the wild, living naturally.

0:20:290:20:32

In fact, it is a hard, harsh, nasty kill or be killed world out there.

0:20:320:20:38

And this has just got to learn all of that.

0:20:380:20:41

'Talking of being killed, back at the zoo,

0:20:420:20:44

'it was time to get in with Cousteau.

0:20:440:20:46

'If it took three people to restrain the 10-inch travel version

0:20:460:20:49

'we just released, Cousteau was a one-sea-lion army,

0:20:490:20:52

'like Chuck Norris in a PVC onesie.

0:20:520:20:54

'But if I was to do a show with him, had to overcome my fear of this wet-look leather lardmobile.'

0:20:540:20:59

There is no need to be nervous at all. He is really, really good.

0:20:590:21:03

You can ask him to give you a nice wave. I'll just feed him for that.

0:21:030:21:08

All you have to do is just walk up really nice and boldly

0:21:080:21:11

and just be like, yeah.

0:21:110:21:13

Lean into him and he will give you a nice big kiss.

0:21:130:21:15

He can do it on your cheek if you don't want to do lips just yet.

0:21:150:21:17

-Are you not kissing him?

-No. Has he ever bitten anyone?

0:21:170:21:20

I'll throw him a fish. It's nothing personal. Well, it is personal.

0:21:200:21:25

Do you want to throw a hoop into the pool?

0:21:250:21:28

-He can go and get that and then feed him afterwards.

-Change of plan.

0:21:280:21:31

I want you not to go through it.

0:21:310:21:33

Avoid it, yeah? Avoid this.

0:21:330:21:36

SHE LAUGHS

0:21:360:21:39

Avoid the ring!

0:21:410:21:43

He's like Gollum. Obsessed.

0:21:450:21:48

-Now I have to get you out of that, because you're stuck.

-Good luck.

0:21:480:21:52

He's fine. Just go in there and take it off. Keep going, that's it.

0:21:520:21:59

Oh, my God!

0:22:000:22:02

SHE LAUGHS

0:22:020:22:04

-Genuinely quite scary. He is a big old lump.

-Scary?!

0:22:060:22:10

'Rhod and Cousteau would never be Brad and Angelina.

0:22:100:22:13

'Nobody would ever call us Rhousteau, but at least I was in there with him.

0:22:130:22:16

'As long as tomorrow's show did not involve me doing anything else whatsoever, we'd be fine.'

0:22:160:22:20

What a clever lad! Well done.

0:22:200:22:23

I had an auntie who walked like that.

0:22:230:22:25

'I'd made progress with Cousteau, but still couldn't tell one chimp's arse from another one's elbow.

0:22:250:22:29

'So Pete gave me a jungle VIP pass to get to know them better.'

0:22:290:22:33

You're going to help me with a chimp presentation.

0:22:330:22:35

I can't remember your names. And you all look the same to me.

0:22:360:22:40

-This is Euro.

-Who's that? Who the hell is this bruiser?

0:22:400:22:44

That's him, Sixpence, who's the alpha male.

0:22:440:22:48

He is huge. I am not surprised. He is enormous.

0:22:480:22:50

-All right, Sixpence? This is Groat.

-That's Nickel.

-Nickel, yes.

0:22:500:22:55

I can't tell the difference. Nickel!

0:22:560:22:59

Tuppence has learned a little bit of sign language,

0:22:590:23:03

so she can point out an empty bottle and then at the tap

0:23:030:23:06

and then at you, so she is quite clever.

0:23:060:23:08

The others have never learned that. You look into the eyes of a chimp and think there is something going on,

0:23:080:23:13

like looking into the eyes of a girlfriend.

0:23:130:23:15

That says more about you than it does about the chimp.

0:23:150:23:18

Where is the tap? Where is the tap, Tuppence? Where's the tap, Tuppence?

0:23:180:23:23

Where is the tap? Where is the tap? Peter, where's the tap?

0:23:230:23:28

-It's over there.

-'Peter proudly told me not only could Tuppence order

0:23:280:23:33

'a round of drinks, but she was also an accomplished painter.

0:23:330:23:36

'I was starting to see why he'd gone out with her in the first place.'

0:23:360:23:39

Euro, you don't even like drawing. Stop interfering with the artistic process.

0:23:390:23:43

Euro, you are just being disruptive.

0:23:430:23:46

OK, you can have a little bit, Euro. You go over there and eat your paint

0:23:460:23:49

and we're going to do a painting over here.

0:23:490:23:51

This is a Honda Accord 1987 by Tuppence.

0:23:510:23:56

'Paint wasn't really Tuppence's medium,

0:23:560:23:59

'so I give her felt tips and a flipchart and asked her to draw

0:23:590:24:01

'some caricatures of her friends to help me remember them. The results were simply astonishing.'

0:24:010:24:06

This is Mabel, who is our oldest chimp.

0:24:060:24:09

This is Euro, who is very, very sociable.

0:24:090:24:11

He is depicted here leaning over a wall, chatting with his neighbours.

0:24:110:24:15

This is Tuppence, who is the only bald chimp in the group.

0:24:150:24:19

Top chimp is Sixpence -

0:24:190:24:20

that is how I'm going to remember him, music booming.

0:24:200:24:23

Last but not least, Coron is distinctive mainly in this area,

0:24:230:24:28

cos he has massive nuts.

0:24:280:24:31

'I was getting there slowly, but I was still anxious about

0:24:310:24:34

'the next day's shows. And that night I had nightmares.

0:24:340:24:36

'Cousteau and a leather whip,

0:24:360:24:38

'freaky monkey people sucking locust lollipops and most scarily of all,

0:24:380:24:41

'Pete and Tuppence on the backseat of a Honda Accord. Next morning, Penguin-gate still haunted me.

0:24:410:24:46

'I needed the chimps to put on a bullet-proof-glass-smashing show to make up for it.'

0:24:460:24:51

I don't know anything about these chimps.

0:24:510:24:53

I had a quick pep talk with Tuppence and Euro and Sixpence earlier,

0:24:530:24:57

but I have no idea. I don't recognise any of them.

0:24:570:24:59

Get them to ask questions, that's a good technique.

0:24:590:25:02

Or get them to tell me what they know about chimps. That's the one.

0:25:020:25:06

-Hello.

-Hello.

-Are you all right? Why don't you tell me what you know about chimps?

0:25:060:25:11

And then I can tell you the rest.

0:25:110:25:13

-They eat fruit.

-They eat fruit. They do eat fruit. Well done!

0:25:160:25:18

Good. Um... They do eat fruit... don't they?

0:25:180:25:24

Does anybody have any questions about chimps?

0:25:240:25:27

You probably have so many, you can't think of any off the top of your head.

0:25:290:25:33

Is that what it is?

0:25:330:25:34

'I couldn't have asked for more.

0:25:350:25:37

The chimps put on a blinding acrobatic display and the crowd lapped it up.'

0:25:370:25:41

Well, it's a hell of a show today, isn't it?

0:25:440:25:46

I failed to engage the public and the chimps.

0:25:460:25:50

Do you know what I was looking at? That was so awkward.

0:25:500:25:54

That was a bloody... That and the penguins.

0:25:540:25:56

Today is turning into a nightmare.

0:25:560:25:58

'Like a vicar hurriedly trying to hide a blow-up doll, the penguins

0:25:580:26:01

'and chimps had let me down badly.

0:26:010:26:03

'I headed to my final show, my last chance of dignity in the flippers of a critically obese French sea lion.'

0:26:030:26:09

If he lets me down today, I don't care who is watching,

0:26:090:26:12

I will beat him to within an inch of his fat life.

0:26:120:26:15

You touch my sea lion, you are going in that pool.

0:26:150:26:20

-I am much scarier than Cousteau.

-You're not.

0:26:200:26:24

'An expectant crowd had gathered. We had to pull this off.

0:26:290:26:33

'Cousteau and I had rehearsed. It was time to deliver.

0:26:330:26:36

'Welcome to Strictly Come Gimping.'

0:26:360:26:40

# Baby, you're so tasty, tasty

0:26:480:26:50

# I don't really want to waste it... #

0:26:500:26:52

Don't let me down now, Cousteau.

0:26:520:26:55

# So put your back into it And let your mind go... #

0:26:550:26:57

He's doing all right. Cousteau is doing all right.

0:26:590:27:02

# I know you wanna go crazy I know you wanna go wild

0:27:020:27:05

# I know you wanna go crazy... #

0:27:050:27:07

-I think he really likes you, Rhod.

-The feeling is mutual.

0:27:090:27:12

Good boy.

0:27:220:27:24

'A new showbiz partnership had been born. Rhousteau.'

0:27:240:27:28

-Well done! That was really good.

-That was all right. We did all right.

0:27:280:27:33

Yeah, you both did really well.

0:27:330:27:35

-How do you think I got on?

-To be honest, I think it was all right.

0:27:360:27:39

In the circumstances, average.

0:27:390:27:42

No, in the circumstances, I would say above average.

0:27:420:27:46

In this zoo, the keepers feel like a family, but the animals are included. It's one big family.

0:27:460:27:53

With the best will in the world, if you work in Tesco's, you don't get passionate over a tin of beans

0:27:530:27:58

or a packet of cornflakes. But here, everyone is passionate about their own little bit.

0:27:580:28:02

If it all doesn't work out for me in stand-up comedy, then I might be back.

0:28:020:28:05

-Yes.

-Asking for a job.

-E-mail me.

-I will. No phone calls.

0:28:050:28:09

THEY LAUGH

0:28:090:28:11

'The last three days has just been amazing. It is an amazing job.'

0:28:140:28:17

Look at that. It's just great, isn't it? What a way to finish.

0:28:180:28:21

It has been fun, fascinating, informative,

0:28:230:28:26

it has been a massive privilege to get this close to animals

0:28:260:28:29

I never thought I would get close to at all.

0:28:290:28:32

I feel like I know a lot more about the conservation angle,

0:28:320:28:36

and for these guys here, the zoo keepers here at least,

0:28:360:28:40

that is a huge factor in what motivates them.

0:28:400:28:42

Peter and the rest of the zoo keepers here have done a fairly good job of convincing me

0:28:420:28:47

zoos are a really important part of the conservation jigsaw.

0:28:470:28:51

Part of a bigger picture that contributes to ensuring that

0:28:510:28:54

some of the most endangered animals on this planet

0:28:540:28:57

will survive for generations to come.

0:28:570:28:59

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:29:080:29:11

Rhod Gilbert leaves his regular job as a stand-up comedian to try out four new ones. He has to try and become a modern day Doctor Dolittle as a zoo keeper at Welsh Mountain Zoo, North Wales. Looking after tigers, sea lions and freaky monkeys, Rhod faces up to the realities of exotic animal care - and he cannot even remember the monkeys' names.


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