Ben Fogle and Kate Humble explore life at Longleat Estate and Safari Park. A hidden 'carcass-cam' shows what ruthlessly efficient feeding machines the white-backed vultures are.
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-Hello, and welcome to Animal Park. I'm Ben Fogle.
-And I'm Kate Humble,
and we're out in the East Africa reserve with Honey,
the female ostrich.
Now, you may think that she's not looking terribly well,
but in fact, she's brooding her 18 eggs,
which would be enough to make anybody exhausted, I'd have thought!
Those eggs are expected to hatch any day now, and for all we know
she may well be sitting on some chicks at this very moment,
so we'll keep you posted.
We've got lots of other stories coming up from the park,
and the house and the estate, including...
The vultures go into a feeding frenzy.
We'll find out what it's like to be the victim.
The otter pups have finally learnt to swim,
but they still like it best in the shallow end.
And giant cockroaches, monster scorpions and blind mutant fish.
I'll be getting friendly with the stuff of nightmares.
But first, we're going up to tiger territory,
because Sona has a problem.
He and Kadu have both now reached a grand old age.
As two of the most elderly tigers in Britain,
it's very important to keep a close eye on their health.
Keeper Bob Trollope has been looking after them
ever since they were youngsters.
Most of the problems that they do get nowadays is age-related.
You know, they're both in their twenties,
Kadu's 21, and Sona's 20,
so, you know, in tiger years, they are very old-aged pensioners.
At the moment, Kadu is quite well,
she's only suffering from a touch of arthritis.
Sona, on the other hand, has a few ongoing problems,
including a pancreatic disorder which is kept in check with medication,
but now Bob's spotted a new problem.
Unfortunately, Sona is limping,
so I think it's going to have to be a case of
asking Duncan to pop down, just to check him over.
We're lucky, in a way, that we can get him to stand up,
and show us his claws, so we'll be able to assess properly
whether he needs his claws trimming,
or whether it's something higher up in the leg.
With the tigers, any sign of lameness is particularly worrying.
It was only a couple of years ago that Kadu almost died
from a problem with her feet.
Tigers' claws never stop growing,
and if they don't wear them down by scratching, or climbing,
then the claw can start to grow into the pad of the foot.
That's what happed to Kadu,
so the keepers and the vet had to knock her out with an anaesthetic,
and then trim back those ingrown claws.
Oh, this is really deeply embedded, that's really nasty.
Can you hold it up, please?
Unfortunately, the injury had become infected,
and that had turned to blood poisoning.
That's going to be causing her severe bacteraemia.
I think that's...
-That was embedded...
-You can smell, it stinks.
..what, three or four centimetres into her pad.
But that wasn't the worst.
Halfway through the operation, the anaesthetic became too much for Kadu,
and she stopped breathing.
-Is she breathing?
There's always a danger in using an anaesthetic,
and the more elderly the animal, the greater the risk.
She isn't breathing, is she?
Right, just keep doing that, every five seconds, all right?
Luckily, that time, she did pull through,
but you can see why Sona's limp is being taken very seriously indeed.
We'll be back later, when the vet arrives to investigate the problem.
The proper word for a group of vultures is a venue,
and Longleat's new venue of ten African white-backed vultures
are now well settled in their giant aviary.
Despite appearances, vultures can be rather camera-shy,
and they're particularly nervous when they're feeding.
So, today we've set up a couple of remote cameras,
to try to get some unique footage.
Lunch has just been put out, it's part of a carcass,
and we've buried a camera in a box right next to it.
There's another bolted to the tree directly above.
Now everything's ready,
and the keeper in charge of the vultures, Mark Tye,
has joined me to watch the first live pictures from carcass camp.
If we press the button so that we can see what image we've got,
here's what we're getting, a couple of flies around there.
So are you anticipating they're all going to come down at the same time?
Obviously, they're very shy. We've had to move that quite a long way.
No, what would happen is, you will get a more dominant bird,
will come and check it out first.
You know, they can be quite wary,
particularly if it looks like a body of an animal,
they want to make sure that it's actually dead.
-There we go.
We can't really see them eating yet. I'm sure their heads will...
Whoa, we can sort of see bits of wing.
Look at them all now.
-This is what I would call a feeding frenzy.
So how long will it take them to polish off this whole carcass?
-Probably ten minutes.
They're very, very quick at clearing up.
We've got a great perspective of the heads now,
-these bald heads that they're so famous for.
Is there a reason that they're bald?
Yes, well, obviously, what you wouldn't want in this situation,
where you're pushing your head into the inside of a carcass,
is getting all the sort of blood and mess all stuck in your feathers,
and if they had feathers on their head,
that would happen, and it would be difficult to clean up.
Oh! Knocking into the camera,
but they're not too worried about it at all, are they?
I noticed a couple of them have pecked it.
It might look like an eyeball,
that's one of the first things they tend to eat.
Is it? Really? Why, is that because it's a soft part?
It's a soft part, and it's an easy way to get in.
And will they eat the bones as well?
They'll eat small bones, but they won't digest these,
they'll bring them back up in a pellet form,
with hair and small pieces of bone, similar to an owl.
We can't really see on this, but it looks like, from here,
every so often one gets booted out of the back,
and then comes in and rejoins them.
Yes, obviously they can only fill so much into their mouth at one point,
and, you know, a stronger bird will come in and push someone out,
and then they just literally have to wait their turn for a spot,
and, you know, dive in there and get some more.
-So it's a bit like watching a game of rugby?
I'm assuming that out in the wild they have a pretty important role.
Absolutely, I mean, you know, without animals like the scavengers,
like vultures and jackals and hyenas,
there'd be a lot of sort of rotting carcasses lying around,
that would be a big sort of disease risk to the other animals.
Vultures and that are there to clear up the mess behind everybody else.
So absolutely vital for other animals.
Vital for the ecosystem, yeah.
Mark, thank you very much.
I think we can say that carcass-cam has been a huge success,
and thank goodness for vultures.
Back in tiger territory, Sona the elderly male has been kept indoors for a couple of days' cage rest.
He was seen limping on his front, right leg
and now Duncan Williams, the vet, has arrived to find out what can be done.
In the past, both Sona and Kadu
have had problems with in-growing claws
so Duncan's brought the clippers.
But, as Head of Section Brian Kent knows, just getting a close look is not easy.
It's very difficult really.
The bits of meat are just, you know,
to keep them up so we can have a look at his claws as well.
If we keep it like that you can always check on them so there's no problem
because it's not easy to check their claws, you know, how can you get a tiger to show their claws to you?
The only way to do it is to get them up on the cage with a bit of meat.
All the big cats here have been trained to take meat chunks from a stick.
You see, that's getting close, that one's all right.
I don't think any of them are growing in, no.
It's not as bad but he is still lame.
He's probably just hurt his leg out there.
Sona's claws are not in-grown but they do need trimming.
Duncan's going to try something crafty.
How many chunks you got?
Normally the only way to cut a tiger's nails is when they're under anaesthetic.
That's the worst one.
Good boy, come here.
Has he got an eye on you and an eye on me?
Now Sona's got wise, but Duncan has trimmed
the two longest claws
and he's satisfied with how the tiger's using his leg.
As he'd been padding around the pens here he hasn't showed too much
lameness at all so we'll probably get a better idea when he goes out.
He's probably just injured his leg, he's probably just twisted it. Soft-tissue injury I mean.
I don't think... I'd be surprised if it's a long-term arthritis problem
like we've got with Kadu, er, you know, just when you pull
a muscle yourself, you're a bit sore for a few days and hopefully the rest he's had now will be sufficient
to get him over it, really.
It's a good sign that Sona is keen to get out after his few days' rest.
We're just watching Sona walking out here and
he's not looking too bad, he's not really showing too much lameness.
He seemed quite tender when we...
Just before Brian released him, with the excitement of opening the cage, he did start showing a little bit of
tenderness and sort of collapsed on his leg but once he's got out it doesn't look too bad at all.
Again, on the stones he's not very happy
but on the softer ground he's fine.
We'll get Brian to increase... He's on a sort of anti-inflammatory,
a little bit like a sort of aspirin, every day, he's actually on quite a low-maintenance dose at the moment
so we can put it up to a bit more of a treatment level for a few days, so that'll certainly help.
Sona's walk is still a little stiff,
but at his grand age that's only to be expected.
We'll be following developments in the tiger house later in the series.
Down by Pet's Corner,
part of the stable block has been developed into Old Joe's Mine.
The subterranean theme means that this is the perfect place to exhibit nocturnal animals, like bats.
But now we've heard they've taken the idea a step further.
Ooooh! It's all a bit dark and spooky in here.
I'm in Old Joe's Mine with Old Jo...
keeper here. Now you've been doing a huge amount of work building up the exhibit, haven't you?
-We have yes, yeah.
-And I think these are the final beasties to go in, is that right?
-They are, yep.
-They look fearsome. What are they?
-These are imperial scorpions.
The imperials are one of the biggest
and you can see they've got those huge pincers at the front.
-Huge pincers, I'm very glad there's a lid on this box.
Now, they're going to be living in this tank here, are they?
They are, yep.
-My worry, if I may say so, is that it is very dark in here...
-It's a little bit chilly...
It looks a bit sort of, well, dank and moist.
Is that the right sort of place for keeping scorpions?
It is, yes. These guys here like to have an area where they can go off
-and be in the dark, and we've got a heat lamp in there so they'll have the warmth...
..but they also like dark areas to go off and hide into.
-So they're perfectly adapted...
-..for Old Joe's Mine.
How perfect. Right, I'm going to give these... Where's lovely John?
John, can I give you those?
-Present for you.
-Can we see the rest of it?
Course we can. We've got lots of other things adapted to these kind of conditions.
Right. Oh, look at this!
Yes, these guys are very adapted to...
Every housewife's nightmare!
Exactly, that was why we put them in a kitchen cupboard, yeah.
Those are, I think, the biggest cockroaches I've ever seen.
They are pretty big, yeah.
-Would you like to see one?
-Well, I would actually.
-Yeah? OK, then.
They're sort of fascinating in a horrendous sort of way.
Let's get one out and have a look, then. Here, this is a nice one.
-There's one right on the door here.
-Let's have this one.
You are fearless, Jo. Shall I shut that just in case they all jump out?
These come from South America. Would you like to have a go?
-They just tickle your hand, they don't do any harm.
-They are tickly.
And obviously they've got this reputation, cockroaches.
The minute you say cockroach to someone, they kind of go, "Ugh."
But it's just that they like hanging out in dark and dank places.
-So again, perfect for Old Joe's Mine.
And in the exhibit here you've got all these sort of
bits of fruit and things, presumably that's what they're feeding on?
They will go around and eat...
In the rainforest, where these come from, they'll actually go around doing a good tidy-up job.
They'll eat all the old mulchy leaves, old bits of fruit, things that no other animals want to eat.
-There we are.
-There we go.
That's it. Nice and closed up. Right, what next?
Right, these next things are actually adapted to living, over the years, in the dark, complete dark,
-and these are the cave fish, blind cave fish.
They are, yep. If you look at them, you can see that...
-These come from caves in Mexico.
And what's happened is obviously, over millions of years, these have actually, because they live in
such dark conditions, they've never had to have any use for eyes.
-So they've just lost their eyes altogether?
-Can you see there's a place where the eye should be.
Yeah, you can see that it's almost like the shadow of the eye.
-That's it, and...
-But no actual eyes.
Lack of pigmentation. You can see right through their bodies there.
What's so amazing is you've got, you know, obstacles and things in here, rocks and stuff
and, I mean, you'd think that if they were totally blind
they'd just swim into them and end up kind of concussed at the bottom.
Well, that's why we've partly got them in here
because if you know the workings of the bats, as you do, they're very similar.
What they do is they actually bounce sound waves off the objects to find their way around.
-Wow. So exactly the same as bats?
-Yeah, exactly the same.
How amazing. Did I see someone wiggle there?
Yeah, I've got someone behind there. Can we have the rock in, please?
What we're going to do now is lower a rock in and they'll come up to it.
They know instantly where it is, although they have no eyesight,
and from the sound waves they are receiving off that rock they'll avoid the rock completely.
-That's incredible, let's just see... Ooh!
-Oh, yeah, it is...
-They'll go up to it, they know it's there, but...
You watch, they'll actually go away to avoid it now, they'll swim around it, very well adapted.
Jo, I think you've done the most amazing job, it's great in here now.
A really, really good, interesting exhibit. Thank you very much.
-That's all right, thank you.
-These guys are great!
There's a baby boom on amongst Longleat's heard of Pygmy goats.
All seven of the nannies were pregnant and so far
three little kids have been born and are already running around.
But it hasn't all been good news.
For two of the mums things went very wrong.
Both Gee and Sunflower had stillborn twins.
Sunflower was put back out into the enclosure
but now she's got another problem.
This morning, Senior Keeper Bev Evans spotted that she's limping on her front left leg.
She's called in Duncan Williams, the vet, to come and take a look.
That's the problem there, look,
-she's had a bash.
They seem to be pitching into her, you know, hitting her a bit.
I think she's been caught
probably by the other one's horn or something.
I think we'd better get her in, get her away from these others.
We'd better clean this up and give her antibiotics, but that's quite...
-That's quite nasty.
-Quite a severe wound actually.
Although the goats spend most of the time out in the enclosure,
they do have their own pens next door to the giraffe house.
While Duncan fetches his veterinary kit, Bev keeps an eye on Sunflower.
Sunflower's had a bit of a hard week unfortunately.
Yeah, she's obviously lost her twins on Monday and it's now Wednesday
and she's quite severely lame as well on her front left,
from what we think is a play fight gone wrong, as such.
They play all the time and we've got some with horns, some without,
and we've never had any problems at all ever with that
but I suppose if she's in a bit of a weakened state
and someone's just caught her wrong with their horns,
possibly her sister, Daisy, actually.
Yeah, it's just one of those things, it's just caught her badly.
They're going to need more light so Sunflower's brought right out into the yard.
For an operating table they've got a bale of straw,
which also gives Sunflower something to chew.
Yeah, she still eats.
It's a stress reaction, isn't it?
The injection is a local anaesthetic to numb the area around the wound.
It's a massive wound, you can see. I mean, it's that sort of size and
it's actually fairly fresh, I think.
You know, Bev's only found her lame this morning, and I think...
..it's obviously happened not that long ago, hasn't it?
But because it's so fresh I'm a little bit concerned about
this flap here because it is... it may have lost its blood supply,
in which case that'll die,
but we've got this massive sort of thing going up here.
We can probably bring that back down.
Luckily you can see the skin's so elastic, even though we've
got a huge defect there it will come together quite nicely.
But before Duncan can try to sew it up he must make sure it's all perfectly clean.
I've got to try and get all that hair off from the inside of the wound.
It's not going to be 100% sterile, clean, but it won't be bad.
Just going to put a bit of this aloe cream on...
to try and help the healing process.
It's a tricky job to sew up such an irregularly shaped wound
and it's going to take a while.
And, when the stitches are finished, that's all the vet can do for now.
We'll find out really if it heals. We'll have to wait and see really.
In the next sort of week, ten days, we'll know really.
So it's just down to quiet rest and time.
We'll be back later to find out what happens to Sunflower.
Earlier this year there was great excitement in Pet's Corner
when Rosie and Romeo, the Asian short-clawed otters, had two little babies.
They were the first otter pups to be born at Longleat in thirty years
so, needless to say, we've been following their progress pretty closely.
I'm down at Pet's Corner with keeper Rob Savan
to catch up with Longleat's four resident Asian short-clawed otters.
Rob, how are they getting on? They look fantastic in the sun.
They're doing really well. The little ones actually look the same size as Mum and Dad now.
It's almost impossible to tell the difference.
-Yeah, very hard.
-What's this hose?
We're doing a bit of a clean-out.
Once or twice a week we clean the pond out,
it gives them some nice fresh water, obviously makes it nice and visible for the visitors,
but I was noticing when I was filling up the last couple of times,
they're all playing, when it got to this level, just in the water.
-In the shallows?
-Yeah, we fill it up a lot higher than this
and otters obviously you associate with swimming and being agile
and they are very agile swimmers
but they do prefer, and they confirm that this particular type of otter,
the Asian otter, prefers shallower water.
Shall we see if we can entice them into the water?
We've got some otter's favourite here.
Some shrimps and what we've also got down hidden in the water is a little camera
so we might just get a slightly different sort of perspective.
-Who's that gobbling them all up, being greedy?
-That's Mum and Dad.
I think the two little ones are just holding back,
I got a feeling they are a bit scared of the camera.
-Are they a bit shy of it?
-I saw them in here a bit earlier on.
They're hiding back, and Mum and Dad are used to it actually.
I wonder if I can entice them out?
Now, the youngsters, how old are they now?
-They are just over nine months now.
-Have we got names for them?
-We have indeed, yes.
We got a local school to name them, we went for some Asian names.
They had a big list of Asian names to choose from because they are Asian short-clawed otters
so I dug up some names off the internet
and they were all really cracking names, but they chose Emico...
-And Arun. Now, Arun means "Of the Dawn".
And Emico means "Beautiful". I think we should call them all Beautiful.
-Very appropriate names. Rob, thank you very much.
I think you are onto a winner with the shallow water in here.
They are good swimmers in the deep but they prefer the shallows.
They love the shallow water, especially on a hot day like this.
Back in the goat pens, it's been a couple of days
since Sunflower suffered a large wound in a play fight.
Head of Section Andy Hayton has been keeping an eye on her and making sure she gets her medication.
She's been locked in, away from the others so...
they're a herd animal, they always spend all their time together
so I think she is, yeah, a little bit depressed, you know,
she's had her leg slashed open by something or someone, you know, had a lot of trauma and stress,
taken away from her mates,
so it's not really a good week for the goat.
Duncan's going to assess it next Wednesday but we want to keep her away...
If it was one of the other goats that clipped her, she's got a load of stitches in her leg now.
If it happens again, that's the kind of luck that you get sometimes,
it's going to tear the wound open so we want to leave her away for a good while,
let that wound start knitting together,
and hopefully it won't happen again but we need to give her...
It's weighing up her being on her own and a little bit miserable
and the chances of her tearing the stitches out, and then you've got to go through that whole rigmarole
of stitching her up again,
which she doesn't need and we don't really want to do either.
A week after Sunflower's original injury,
Duncan Williams, the vet, is back to see how she's doing.
That seems great,
really pleased with that, see you put your cream on.
Sunflower's doing really well, she's...
Skin flap's healed up lovely,
which, considering it was a bit contaminated at the time
and there was horrible sort of... bits here, bits there, you know, flaps of it, we thought
it might have damaged the... compromised the blood supply
and cause it to sort of die off and slough off but, no, it's doing really well, so that's good,
and I think really, you know, stick her out, I think, let her go down the bottom, fine.
Come on, Sunflower.
Now the best therapy for Sunflower is to be back with the herd
so a little later on Senior Keeper Bev Evans has brought her out.
She's been brilliant all the way through.
Through the stitching she had a local anaesthetic and she was just lying down and she hardly struggled.
She's been putting weight on it near enough straightaway and, you know, exercising it, keeping it clean,
she's done everything we've wanted her to do and she's looking fine now.
We've come up to the rhino house to help with the end-of-day feed.
We're here with Deputy Head of Section Kevin Nibbs
and we seem to be feeding outside, Kevin, which is unusual. I thought the rhinos were shut inside at night.
Normally, but now we've got a new facility for the rhinos it seems a shame to lock them away at night
They've got access to it all night, it's really good for them,
it's a bit of a stimulus, they get to stay out during the night and...
-So who's out here now?
-We've got the two girls out today, this is Rosina, the closest to us, and Marashi.
-OK, so shall I just stick this...?
-Yeah, if we have two piles...
I'll do Rosina's pile. Here you are, Rosina.
And I'm going to pop this just through here, Kevin?
-Just through that.
-There's Rosina's food, her tea.
-And just tip that over the hay?
-What have we got in the bucket?
It's just the night food, just a few horse pellets and a little bit
-of additives for them, a few vitamins and minerals.
And they're quite content and happy staying out here overnight?
-Presumably the weather's nice and warm...
-They're very happy.
They get sun on their backs for almost 24 hours a day now so it's really good for them.
And obviously at night-time this is a controlled environment here and they're safe and happy?
Yeah, it's a pretty solid barrier, there's steel everywhere, so it's pretty solid and they can't get out.
Fantastic! I don't think the two piles worked.
I think my feeding obviously went down rather better than yours, Ben.
We can start on that one in a moment, Kate.
Kevin, thank you very much. Sadly that's all we've got time for today
but here's what's coming up on the next Animal Park.
Winky the one-wheeled tortoise has been in a bash.
Now she needs roadside assistance.
We set up a special spy-cam to find out what the wolves make of an unusual pong.
And we'll be there to greet the park's newest arrival on the very first morning of her life.
So don't miss the next Animal Park.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd - 2007
E-mail [email protected]
It's feeding time for the ten new African white-backed vultures - a hidden 'carcass-cam' shows what a ruthlessly efficient feeding machine these birds are. The otter pups have finally learned to swim - but they still prefer the shallow end. Kate gets friendly with the stuff of nightmares - giant cockroaches, monster scorpions and blind mutant fish.