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Hello and welcome to a very special edition of Animal Park.
-I'm Ben Fogle.
-And I'm Kate Humble, and today we're celebrating
the 40th anniversary of the Longleat Safari Park.
The very first car load of visitors came through the gates
on the 7th of April 1966.
And now almost three-quarters of a million people, every year,
come to visit the 400 or so animals that live here.
We'll be bringing you stories from all over the park and some fantastic tales of the last 40 years.
Here's what's coming up on today's programme.
We've gone back to the archives to dig up
some extraordinary footage from the early days of the safari park
and to find out why it was such a shocking idea.
Lord Bath will be sharing some of his memories as he serves supper
to Longleat's most famous residents.
And in the gorilla house we've set up spy cameras
to find out just what Nico and Samba
get up to when no-one's around.
That is amazing! Don't eat the camera, Nico!
But first, there's a celebration going on at the front gate.
The press are here to meet Lord Bath as he commemorates
the 40th anniversary of the opening of the safari park.
There's a parade of vintage cars,
all at least 40 years old.
Of course there's a birthday cake
and, as you'd expect at an event like this,
there's also a ribbon to cut.
Back in 1966 when the gates were first opened, the world was a different place.
People were astonished by the safari park
because no-one had ever seen anything like it before.
So now we're going to take a trip back in time
to see how it all began.
But we're starting even earlier -
back in 1949 when Lord Bath's father, the 6th Marquess,
was facing financial ruin.
There were death duties of £18 million that had to be paid
so he took the radical decision to open his ancestral house to the paying public.
Longleat was the first private stately home to do so in England
but soon others followed and the 6th Marquess needed something new,
something sensational to keep the visitors coming.
Years later he was asked where that new idea came from.
Well, I was approached by Jimmy Chipperfield, my partner, in 1964.
He said he wanted to see me about keeping some animals here and I thought he meant a zoo.
But, of course, he said, "Oh, I don't want a zoo like everybody else has got. I want to have a park
"where the animals can roam free and the people would be in cages."
That took me aback. I said, "You must give me a fortnight to think about it."
During that fortnight I talked to a lot of people and they said,
"I wouldn't touch it with the end of a bargepole. You'll only have 500 cars round."
When they say that it makes you think. But then I thought hard.
I thought, "Jimmy's right. We'll get many more people."
In the beginning, it was the lions
that people came to see and there were plenty of them.
50 were brought here from zoos across Europe
and from game dealers in Africa.
To many local people the thought of all those ferocious beats
was horrifying. Tim Moore is the estate manager today.
When he opened the safari park
it was considered outrageous.
Um, I mean, the idea in the mid-60s
of having lions running around in Wiltshire
took a lot of understanding.
And indeed it would anywhere if you were introducing, you know,
large African carnivores to pastoral England.
And so it certainly caused a major stir.
It was up to the safari park's first head warden to make sure
that the lions didn't get out amongst the population of Wiltshire.
He was an ex-Army mine clearance officer
who'd been working with wild animals in Africa - Mike Lockyer.
We had some basic knowledge of what animals would do
but because nothing quite like it had been done
we didn't know exactly would happen.
It was the unknown that was the thrilling bit. I was terribly excited.
It was a thing that I felt that I wanted to do.
It was pioneering, it was experimental and it was going to be a lot of fun a lot of interest.
The lion enclosure was surrounded by chain-link fence -
army surplus from prisoner of war camps in Korea -
but Mike wasn't convinced it would be secure enough.
It was decided that we should do a night watch
and so there were about 10 to 12 hours over a night period
where we would patrol around the outside of the fence
with big torches and guns and things.
And, at that stage, there was a big double bed in the pheasantry
and four of us fellows had to share that. It would take three if you, sort of, lie to attention.
So you'd go out, do your two or three hours around the park,
come back, get into the right-hand side of the bed, everybody moved over
and the one who fell out on the left-hand side it was his turn to go on duty until he came back.
In fact the fence did prove strong enough,
so the most dangerous part of keeping 50 lions together was actually feeding time.
In those days, they took in piles of meat loaded onto
the open back of a vehicle so meals could get a bit rough.
LIONS GROWL AND ROAR
Since then, they've developed a much better of serving supper -
the feed truck.
It's less stressful for the lions and a lot safer for the people,
safe enough even for a peer of the realm.
It's 40 years since the safari park opened its doors to the public
and today I'm embarking on a rather special journey through the lion enclosure
in the company of none other than Lord Bath and deputy head of section Bob Trollope
and we're going to be feeding Kabir's pride.
-Lord Bath, are you looking forward to this?
-Oh, I think they're lovely playful lions, aren't they?
-I think there are no fierce ones.
-A little bit of trepidation? Are you nervous at all?
Well, I'm anticipating that they're just nice cuddly creatures.
Bob, are we, um, are we in safe hands today?
Well, most probably the safest place is in here I would have thought.
-OK, we can see that's one of the youngsters, isn't it?
-That's Malakai, one of the youngsters.
On the other side, Lord Bath there, that's Kabir, isn't it?
This is the big male. There he is.
-So what are we going to do now?
-Shall we try and feed Kabir?
If Lord Bath wants to take the stick.
Push it through this hole here. Kabir!
-Come on, mate. Come on.
-See if he comes up.
Push it through there now.
-There's another one for you, Lord Bath.
-You're grinning from ear to ear, Lord Bath.
-How do you feel feeding...feeding the male through...?
-I'm being very careful about my hand,
making sure it doesn't go out with the stick.
-I'm not sure if he wants to come back.
-There he is.
Of course, Lord Bath, the lions have become synonymous with Longleat.
What is it about lions that people love?
They are the king of the jungle. I think that is the great thrill.
You are meeting eye-to-eye
what is the fiercest of the jungle beasts.
So the idea now, Bob, is to actually feed them on the move so that they chase behind us.
What they will do is get their reward for actually chasing the food wagon.
-Chuck it down now.
-In the hole?
-There we go.
-Who'll take that.
-Does he wait until he's completely full before he'll let anybody else touch...?
-What he does,
he tends to hoard a bit. He will try and grab as many pieces as he can.
He's a bit of a greedy one, Kabir.
Now, bearing in mind that it's 40 years since the safari park's been open,
did you ever envisage that it would last for this long and be as successful as it has been?
Of course we were...
very much hoping and thinking, "It's been so popular at this opening time that this should last us a century."
We were thinking that and we still are thinking that way.
And, of course, you've brought joy to millions of people, Bob,
through the years. There must have been many millions of people passing through.
-Yeah, undoubtedly. And hopefully many millions to come.
Every time we do feed ups it's everyone's favourite bit of the day I do believe.
Well, Lord Bath, thank you. Bob, thank you very much.
Back in 1966, the safari park
was such a new idea that many people didn't really appreciate
how it worked and that could've been dangerous.
The first head warden, Mike Lockyer, was very worried that one of the visitors would get hurt.
People did very odd things.
They'd, you know, open the doors,
go around and get their Thermos flask out of the boot,
even check their oil.
I mean, if they didn't actually see a lion,
and lions are quite good at hiding,
they thought, "Oh, there's none for miles around."
So they'd quite happily get out, not realising that maybe, you know,
ten yards away in a hollow there would be a lion sitting there.
So Mike decided it was time to show people just what could happen.
We did several things.
We put luggage on cars because lots of cars used to come through
with luggage on the luggage racks which was a bit vulnerable.
And then we set up a stunt with a dummy, quite realistic looking - fully dressed with a coat -
leaning over his car, and then just let the lions find it to see what they would do.
And, of course, they grabbed the dummy and ran off with it.
It was really quite dramatic to watch. It was a good publicity stunt, of course...
but it also did rather show people what, what could possibly happen
and it would make them think twice.
Mike's safety film must have done the trick because nothing like this has ever happened for real
in all the 40 long years since the safari park first opened.
The only animals in the park old enough to have been around in 1966
are Nico and Samba - the Western lowland gorillas.
They're both aged 46 and they've been living here for 20 years.
But in all that time, there are some aspects of their behaviour that have never been seen.
I'm at Gorilla Island and we're trying a little bit of an experiment here.
We are going to spy on Nico and Samba, the two Western lowland gorillas
who are tucked away in their cage here, and we're going to try and see what they get up to at night.
So what we've been doing is... I'm just going to sneak gently in here, in case Nico gets cross.
There's a camera right up here which will give us a bird's-eye view of Samba in her cage at night.
So this is where she sleeps.
There will be another one in Nico's cage.
And, if I come back out, we'll see head of section Mark Tye.
-How are you, Mark?
We've got cameras here and lights.
But these are infrared lights, so they won't be really bright,
they won't disturb the gorillas, but it means that we can get shots, both in daylight and at night.
And down here is all the recording equipment that will just buzz away throughout the night
and can record for about nine or ten hours.
So we SHOULD get... Well, have you any idea really what happens once you go home at the end of the day?
No, none whatsoever.
I mean obviously we know very well what happens during the day and early evening,
but once we go home, that's it.
Presumably, are they entirely shut in at night?
Will it just be two sleeping gorillas, do you think?
No. Because it's summer now, the weather's a lot better,
we leave the door open at night so they can go out onto the island all through the night if they want to.
-But one of the things is, we don't know if they do.
Shall we just pop outside, because I know we've got all the stuff out here.
We have put a camera out here in case they do come out, which is just there.
Again, those wires will be tucked away.
And we're going to spread food out.
I mean, would you normally feed them at night anyway?
Yes, we do put a lot of diet out for them at night.
We scatter that around the island and, of course, they do have all the natural forage
-that we leave for them too.
-So we should spread all these out...
-..get them ready for the night...
-..come back and see what evidence there is in the morning.
-I'm really looking forward to it.
Join us a bit later to find out what Nico and Samba get up to at night.
When the safari park opened 40 years ago, one of the first animals to be brought here were the giraffes.
The head warden at time was Mike Lockyer and he remembers when they arrived.
The roof of the lorry had to be raised especially.
I imagine to anyone locally seeing that, it was a thing they'd never have seen before in their lives
and were probably unlikely to ever see again.
It was quite an exotic, you know, sort of sight.
And once the East Africa reserve was ready, the public could get a very close look.
It was one big open space with giraffes, zebra, camels, Ankole cattle,
ostriches and all sorts of things and all milling about with the public who were allowed
to get out and walk around amongst them and picnic with them.
And most of the time this was no problem at all.
Just occasionally the giraffes would be spooked and take off
and you might worry that somebody would get mown down.
Today, for the safety of the visitors and the welfare of the animals
people need to stay in their cars.
Attitudes have changed enormously since the 1960s.
With so many species endangered in the wild, there's a much greater emphasis on conservation
and central to that work is breeding.
Every baby born here is good news for its species.
The deputy head of the East Africa section is Ryan Hockley.
He's very proud of their record to date.
We've been very lucky with the giraffe.
The giraffe births, in particular, have just been fantastic over the years.
Obviously, now we have Century who is our 100th live birth.
So, er, that's a cracking, a cracking record.
And, obviously, the, er... Hello, Honey.
..obviously the giraffes weren't one of the first animals here.
It was all about the lions to start with, and the giraffes came a few years later.
All across the safari park there are tales of breeding success.
This was the first place in Britain to get African pink-backed pelicans to breed.
Mark Tye is in charge of them as well as the gorillas.
The pelicans have been here sort of since the beginning, sort of since '66, late '60s anyway.
Um...but back in those days, I gather they just bought pelicans.
When I first started here there were about three different varieties on this pond
and all a complete mismatch and nothing had ever bred in the past, unsurprisingly,
and, you know, the whole dynamics was wrong.
But when Mark brought in a new group of pink-backs, something happened.
All of a sudden there was this instant change in the birds' behaviour
and they all started making nests and caught us completely on the hop because we didn't have a clue
as to what we were doing with the pelicans, really.
So we obviously did a lot of research and put things right for them,
built these nest platforms,
and since then it's not been easy, but, you know, we've had some good success.
And to date now, I think we've reared, I think it's 18 successfully.
But success can take a while.
In Pet's Corner they've been waiting three decades for their Asian short-clawed otters to breed.
Finally, this year, Rosie and Romeo had two bouncing babies.
Darren Beasley had almost given up hope.
I think sometimes when you work with animals and you try everything -
you can change diet and you can change partners of the the animals,
you get things perfectly right for love and it doesn't happen -
you just want to throw your hands in the air and say, "Well, that's it."
But it's at those times that you've got to take a step back and nature's an amazing thing,
nature always looks after its own.
No matter what YOU try to do, nature will do it and sort it in the end if you let it be.
30 years is a long time to wait, but it was well worth it.
We'll have more about the park's breeding success later on
when we meet some of Longleat's most famous babies.
40 years ago they filled the woods with lions and let giraffes loose in the meadows,
so, then, what were they going to put on the island in the lake?
It was a puzzle for Mike Lockyer.
At one stage they tried baboons on the island...
and they all swam away, they all swam off.
We knew they could swim but we didn't think they would probably go that distance.
But, anyway, that didn't work.
Then we had chimps, of course, because chimps really do not like water at all
and they don't go into it unless they've got...
a very, very good reason.
They were put on on a daily basis and taken off.
We would put them in a boat, row over, put the chimps on the island for the day.
The only funny incident about that that I remember is one day when the chap that was servicing the island
looked round and the boat had gone and the chimp had gone. The chimp was...
rowing back across to the mainland and the fellow was stuck on the island!
It was quite amusing, the idea that the chimp had worked out, "This is what you do.
"You get in and you unhook that bit of rope and off you go," and that's what it was doing.
It wasn't until Nico and Samba, the gorillas arrived
that the keepers knew they had the right animals for the island.
They've now been here for 20 years, but in all that time
no-one has ever seen what they get up to when they're alone,
I'm in the gorilla house with head of section Mark Tye,
and yesterday we rigged up cameras all over the house AND outside
to, well, spy on the gorillas at night, cos you've never seen what they get up to at night, have you?
No. We know very well their day-to-day routine,
but once we go home in the evening, we're in the dark. We don't know what they get up to.
OK. Well the doors are left open at the moment because it's nice and warm
-so they can go in and out, can't they?
They have a free run when the weather's nice and they can make use of the island at night.
-And you've put some food out, last thing.
-Food is scattered around the island as we normally do.
-Right. Shall we press "play" and see what happened.
So we're looking, first of all, at one of the cameras mounted outside the house.
-Right on cue, there he is! Look at that!
He thinks of nothing but food that boy. He's always the first to find it.
-No sign of Samba yet. Shall we check indoors, see if she's there?
I'll just change over.
Well, she seems to be in Nico's pen.
Yeah, I'm not sure what she'll be doing in there,
but she won't stay there for long once he walks in the door.
It does seem odd, I mean they have been together for so long
that they don't curl up together at night. But it really doesn't seem to be the case.
No. I know.
Nico wants to be friends. I've seen that before and we've had them together in the pens during the day.
He goes up and he wants to touch Samba and he wants to get hold of her sometimes,
-and he's quite gentle and nice.
-But she doesn't want to know.
-She's having none of it.
-Doesn't fancy him at all.
-Now being kicked out by Nico into her own pen.
He seems to have spotted the camera immediately. Looking straight at it.
Yeah. Well, he's not silly and he's heard us working up in the roof and drilling holes through the roof.
-What...? Is he climbing?
-He's coming up to have a look.
Cos it's right hidden in the roof. It's only really a black hole as far as he's concerned.
-He's gonna have a look.
That is amazing! Don't chew the camera, Nico!
-He's sniffed the camera, see if it was worth eating.
-He wasn't particularly bothered by it?
-It was just potential food.
-"What's that?" Potential food.
KATE LAUGHS Didn't smell very good.
This is from a little bit later on, obviously
cos it's gone to infrared, black-and-white. It must be completely dark outside.
-Still messing with her bed.
-Still messing with her bed, isn't she?
-Just can't decide where she wants to be.
-She does suffer from a bit of arthritis.
-Oh, does she?
So lying in one position may be uncomfortable for her for any length of time,
which is why she moves around a lot.
-Where's she off to? Looks like she's going outside.
I didn't think once it got dark that they'd go out.
-Here she comes.
She's coming out.
Now, that, I mean, I don't know why she would've done that
unless she's heard some noise out there.
-Again, it's quite late. She'd have eaten well. It's not hunger that's gonna drive her out, is it?
If she heard a noise would it be likely Nico would come out too?
He may do.
-Let's check on Nico.
-Check on him I suppose.
-Look at him!
He's completely zonked. MARK LAUGHS
-It really is, isn't it?
And that's something you never see during the day.
-He's always very dignified and sort of sat up
and to see him just completely sprawled like that...
It feels a bit naughty, doesn't it? I feel we really have spied on him - poor boy!
-Thank you very much, Mark.
Since 1966, when the safari park first opened,
the world's wildlife has taken quite a battering.
For example, there are now less than a thousand Bactrian camels left in the deserts of Central Asia.
So the eight that have been born at Longleat in the last five years,
is a significant proportion of the world's population.
The Pere David deer was actually extinct in the wild.
But the captive breeding programme here and at Woburn were so successful
that a herd was reintroduced to their natural habitat in China.
And the Southern white rhino has recovered in Africa only after
a great deal of conservation effort both there and around the world.
Deputy head warden Ian Turner is proud that over the last 40 years,
Longleat has played its part.
We've had lots of babies. We've sent rhinos back to Africa. Ronnie went back to Africa.
We've had rhinos shipped out to other parks.
At one stage we even had three babies at the same time running about.
That was quite good fun - seeing those about.
They become quite friendly cos you can get quite close to them
cos if the mums are quiet you can get fairly close to the babies.
The female rhinos here now are not quite old enough to start breeding,
but Ian's already looking forward to when they do.
If you can get a successful breeding going and get babies it makes the whole job worthwhile.
Because you're getting babies born which is always good.
You can get a hands on stuff and you get more involved with the animals
and the whole thing brings a glow to everybody when you've got babies born whichever section it is,
even if you're not working the rhino section and there's a baby rhino, it sends a buzz round the park.
Ever since it opened in 1966,
conservation and breeding have been central to the work of the safari park.
It's a role that's become more and more important over the last 40 years
as head warden Keith Harris knows.
I think it's nice that we've, over the years, from breeding giraffes, for instance, rhino,
the pink-backed pelican is another success we've done here.
We've got the flamingos. So the next step is, "Can we breed the flamingos?"
Over the 40 years, there been these steps and I always find the next one's as exciting as the last one.
Because, you know...
to be able to have these animals living happily and breeding here I think is wonderful.
Best memories of the whole place was the fact that it was an entirely new venture,
nobody had done this, so everybody that was here
was excited, there was great camaraderie
and everybody was really trying hard to make it work. They wanted it to be a success and indeed it has been.
We're almost at the end of this 40th anniversary programme,
but before we go, Kate and I have got just enough time to catch up with the latest arrivals -
yet another threatened species.
We're up in Pets' Corner with keeper Jo Hawthorn
-and Sydney and Adelaide - the Parma wallabies.
I can't believe the change, Jo, cos when they first arrived,
-there's no way we'd get this close to them.
-No, not at all.
We've just gradually been coming in here -
a bit each day with browse and the pellets.
Being very patient and getting down to their level.
They've gradually been getting nearer and nearer.
How likely are we to get to them today? We've got some pellets. Would they come up us?
They love the pellets and know we're not gonna frighten them, so they're nearer now,
so hopefully it's just patience.
-If I throw one out let's see.
-That's fine. He'll take one.
Every now and then I notice, Jo, of course he's not going to do it now I'm sure,
-they do a little trembly thing.
That's just...not fear as such
but "I'm quite anxious. I want to come over for the pellet but..."
-It's just like you and me - that bit of reserved...
-Yeah, not quite sure.
-Are they proving popular with the visitors here?
-They are. They're so cute, aren't they?
-They are gorgeous.
-People see our other wallabies at the top of the park
and then come down and see these guys that are much smaller and they've kinda fallen in love with them.
-Let's see. We'll try one more attempt.
-No. I think he prefers me throwing them than coming over.
-I think so. I think so.
-Well, Jo, thank you very much.
Sadly, that's all we've got time for on today's programme.
Here's what's coming up on the next Animal Park.
I'll be down by the lake to meet the new sea lion pups.
Lord Bath dishes the dirt on his great-great-great-great grandfather.
Told you a bit of a lie.
And Kate's in for a surprise up in the Lion House.
We'll have all that and more, next time on Animal Park.
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