Ben Fogle and Kate Humble explore life behind the scenes at Longleat Estate and Safari Park. Up at the great house, Lord Bath dishes the dirt on an old ancestor.
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Hello and welcome to Animal Park. I'm Ben Fogle.
And I'm Kate Humble and we're in the Love Maze -
one of Longleat's four garden mazes.
All of the roses were planted here because of their names -
Seduction, First Kiss, Adam and Eve,
all rather apt names for a garden with love at its heart.
We bring you stories from the house, the estate and the safari park.
Here's what's coming up on today's programme.
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.
And there's good news for an endangered species
when two bouncing babies go out in the park.
But first we're going up to Lion Country
where it's been an eventful year for Kabir's pride.
Seven months ago Yendi the lioness had a daughter - Malaika,
and then just a few weeks later her sister Lunar had another -
Since then the family has been doing fine,
and the cubs are still growing well.
But now there's been a new development in the lion house,
and keepers Bob Trollope and Brian Kent have got a surprise for Kate -
all they've told her is that something's happened to Yendi...
Actually, we told you a little bit of a lie.
-A little fib.
We wanted to surprise you, Kate.
It's completely surprising. That's amazing!
I can't believe it. Look at them!
They're really chubby little things.
The strange thing is, as you realise,
Malaika's not much older than them.
Well, I was going to say. I thought that nature worked this out
in quite a clever way that a female lion couldn't come into season
while she was still suckling a cub.
It's very true. She does follow in her mum's footsteps.
Amy, her mum,
And she's followed in the same footsteps. As you can see,
we've got four additions to the family.
-There's seven or eight months age difference.
I suppose the only worrying thing...
it is great news, but what about Malaika now?
I mean, she's still dependent on mum to a certain extent.
That is a bit worrying cos we don't know what's gonna happen
when she goes out with her four new ones.
Will she let Malaika come up to her? Or keep her away from the cubs?
It's possible. The good thing is they all come in and still can see her.
-They were right next to each other.
-And when the first one was born,
-the two young ones were in with them.
They were sat round this little cub, looking at it, thinking,
It's all good cos that is a learning process for them as well.
They're watching her being maternal
and that's what they're gonna eventually hopefully do themselves.
I don't...I don't think I've ever seen cubs so small here.
The timing has obviously never been right for me.
But we do have one extra surprise for you.
Oh, no Bob, there can't be any more.
We've got to go in there and catch them and sex them.
-So we'll have to move Mum.
When we move Mum, we obviously want everyone out
so there's as little fuss
and as soon as she's separated, we'll come back in...
-If we grab one each and...
I can't believe it!
This is the nicest, nicest, nicest surprise.
'So now, to help keep Yendi calm while Bob and Brian
'cordon her into a separate pen, we need to clear out of the lion house.
'But we'll be back
'when it's time to give the cubs their first check over.'
Two months ago, Bhali the Bactrian camel
gave birth to a baby of great importance.
In the wild, the Bactrian is critically endangered,
with less than 1,000 animals left in the deserts of Mongolia and China.
At Longleat they've had a small herd since the 1970s,
but in recent years there's been little breeding success.
So two years ago they brought in a young male called Khan.
He was not expected to reach sexual maturity for a while yet,
but he's surprised everyone,
including Deputy Head Warden Ian Turner.
The whole idea is when you've got an endangered species is to breed.
We have bred before but we've had a lot of difficulties before.
We've had to do a lot of hand-rearing and we've had a lot of leg trouble
which is why we've got this new bull now
to see if that was one of the causes. He seems to be a good, strong bull
but we just didn't think he was quite old enough to do the job.
But, clearly he was, and when the baby was born they named him Elvis.
MUSIC: "All Shook Up" by Elvis Presley
He had a problem with one of his back legs - it was weak,
so he could hardly stand.
And that meant Elvis couldn't reach to suckle from his mother.
The keeper in charge of the camels, Tim Yeo, was very concerned.
That animal has to drink the vital colostrum, the first milk
that comes through from the mother.
And that's probably within the first three hours,
they need to have that colostrum.
Elvis did manage to get some milk,
and over his first few days that leg got stronger.
After that, he went from strength to strength.
But there were a couple of hairy moments the first time he went out
in the Big Game Reserve.
Elvis got a bit too excited and Tim had to use his vehicle
to stop the youngster from getting into trouble with the ankole cattle.
It's a nightmare, cos you don't know where he's gonna go next.
To manoeuvre a vehicle, you often don't get it right the first time
and you're praying that nothing happens.
Just as Elvis was getting used to the great outdoors,
there was more good news back in the camel house.
Raisha gave birth to a fine baby girl.
She's a white Bactrian, which is particularly rare.
They named her Jasmine, and now that she's four weeks old
the time has come for her to join Elvis outside with the other camels.
Elvis started life smaller and weaker than Jasmine,
but now he's the one who causes the most trouble
for keeper Kevin Knibbs.
Elvis has got a very strong character.
He's into everything he shouldn't be, so he's a proper little camel.
He'll try and do things that we don't want him to and go after our ankles.
He's a proper little baby camel.
He's even started to stand in the road like the other camels
and stop traffic, so he's a bit of a pain but he's pretty special.
Elvis has now learnt a healthy respect
for the other animals that roam free in the Big Game Reserve.
The danger with letting him out into our section
is he could meet other animals,
especially the rhinos which are massively bigger than him
so we had to know that he'd run back to Mum if anything kicked off
and luckily, it's all been fairly good. We've not had any incidents.
It's also fortunate that the two were born so close together.
He's bonded with her very well.
They get along very well together. They're a terrible two-some.
They give their mums no end of trouble.
They've got very different characters.
Jasmine is very sort of wary of us, she won't come up as much as Elvis.
So the future is looking good for the new generation,
though one day the time will come when Elvis will have to move on.
Hopefully, Elvis should have a good few years at Longleat.
He'll grow up to be a good young camel, a nice young bull,
and in a few years time when Dad gets fed up with him,
we'll look for a new home for him
and he can start his own family in another collection.
The Bactrian camel species, there's only about 1,000 left in the wild
so these guys here are pretty special.
After several barren years everyone here is delighted
that the Bactrian breeding programme is back on track.
Back up at the lion house,
Yendi has now been cordoned into a separate pen,
and we're ready to give her four new cubs their first check over.
Presumably we need to do this quickly.
In there, we grab what we can,
sex them, check them over
-and put them back down.
-Can I open this.
-You can be the first one in and grab them!
It's extraordinary going into a cage full of lions,
even though they're little ones.
I am probably the most excited girl in Britain.
OK, we're not gonna hurt them.
Basically, grab one. Just grab 'em.
Then we'll have a quick look.
See this one?
You can see better than I can.
-A little boy, is it?
-A little boy, I reckon.
That's a little boy.
Also a little boy by the looks of things.
So we've got two boys. What else do you need to check at this stage?
One of them...check their eyes.
-All right, all right...
-Made me jump!
Just check their eyes.
They're so soft, aren't they?
-You can feel how sharp their claws are.
They are and look at the size of those paws.
They say with puppies that the paws are an indication of how big...
Shush! Oh, you're a little fighter.
It indicates how big they're gonna be, yeah. Look at this little one.
Shall we pick up the other two?
There you go. All right, all right. Mummy's there.
-Shush, shush, shush.
I know. I've got you, I've got you. Shush, shush, shush.
Aaw! Look at you.
Right, I think we might have a girl here.
-This is a little girl, so two of each.
-Two boys, two girls.
-The perfect family.
-Look at their eyes again.
-This one's got a little mark.
-Do you think that's just a scratch?
-Just behave yourself.
You're gonna be a fighter, aren't you?
With their eyes, you can feel how sharp their claws are at this age
and they're clambering over each other, they've just caught...
-Mind your face!
-She had a swipe at you then.
Well, you are gorgeous. Any names yet or is it too early to say?
Too early. They're not out the woods yet.
They're only four weeks old. They've got a long way to go yet,
-especially when they meet their big sister for the first time.
They're gonna want to play and they'll play rather roughly.
Rather roughly. Well, Bob and Brian,
you almost gave me a heart attack,
but that is the nicest surprise I've ever had. ..Just look at you.
You're four weeks old and you are the most beautiful thing
on telly today. That is for sure.
Yes. ..Oh, thank you both so much.
Just a few minutes later we got Yendi back with her babies.
And once reunited, the whole family soon settled down.
Now we're going to delve into the sometimes shady history
of the Thynne family, with help from Alexander Thynne -
the seventh Marquess of Bath.
He's written extensively about his ancestors,
and we're going to look back
at his great, great, great, great grandfather, Thomas.
He was born in 1734, inherited Longleat at the age of just 18,
and later became the first Marquess of Bath.
"He was charming, ambitious but lazy,
"and on an even more dubious note,
"he was to be described later as a man of unprincipled cunning."
From an early age Thomas was drawn to politics,
and after George III became king in 1760,
he spent a lot of time at court.
They were both young, and became life-long friends.
Kate Harris is Longleat's curator of historic collections.
I don't think he would have got so far in his political career
if he hadn't been such an accomplished courtier
and so acceptable to George III.
I think he was good company.
His conversation was interesting and amusing as well.
And those things mattered in 18th century politics, not like nowadays.
The first marquess did well on the political stage
and was even appointed to the Cabinet as Secretary of State.
But in private, Thomas had a weakness for gambling.
That, combined with his lavish lifestyle,
meant that his debts were soon spiralling out of control.
Some of the bonds that we find outstanding late in his life
are quite colossal. Things like £500 owed to his butcher.
That's a lot of money for a tradesman to have to forward to his creditors.
That's about £40,000 in today's money!
And it wasn't just the butcher,
all his debts together came to quite a sum.
The amount mentioned
which is nearly 25 million,
in equivalent in purchasing power nowadays.
But in those days, if you were a marquess, a member of the Cabinet,
and a personal friend of the King, you could always get credit.
Just as well, because Thomas had a pet project that would cost
a fortune, and transform Longleat forever.
We'll find out about that later on.
There are animals at Longleat from every part of the world,
but they all seem to cope with the Wiltshire weather.
In fact, for some, it's just not wet enough.
Now, not a lot of animals enjoy having showers,
-but I've come down to Pets' Corner to meet up with head of section Darren Beasley... Hi Darren.
..and some animals who love them - the parrots! Is it true then?
They do adore it and we try and give them a shower nearly every day.
Obviously today is a sunny day. Is this your preferred climate?
This is lovely.
-If we can get a bit of a breeze... Do you want a go?
-Just hold it over their heads?
-That's it. And the drops fall down.
It takes a while to sink down to the under feathers. These lovely guard feathers.
-And are the feathers waterproof?
These guys, these macaws, come from central America.
And of course it's the rainforest - it rains an awful lot down there.
So this is normal and it keeps their feathers in good condition.
It takes the dust and the grime off the outside ones.
So will they start grooming themselves?
Yes. We'll spray these for a bit, then we'll wander to the others who are patiently waiting for theirs.
And that gives time for the water to soak in, then we'll give them a second dose.
The idea is they have different types of feathers,
they have the contour, outer feathers - the water is rolling off.
Especially the feathers on the wings.
Underneath there are light, downy feathers that keep them warm.
We need to get to those as well.
This is an encouragement to help them groom.
That wonderful beak is like having an extra pair of hands.
They will groom each individual feather. There are thousands.
This will encourage them to groom...
-So it's like us having a shower?
I have to ask, as we move along,
Lady Amber, is that right? The giant rabbit.
-She sometimes likes to shower herself, does she?
Yes, she'll sit under the dripping parrot.
Today she's eating her hay. Oh, she's gone.
She wasn't impressed by the shower at all. She's gone inside.
So these guys here...
Yeah. Now turn the nozzle a bit, get more power in.
-I'll let the expert do it.
-We'll do a longer range. There we are.
These parrots are slightly different colours. Are they the same breed?
They belong to the species of macaws which are the biggest species of parrot in the world.
These are blue and yellow macaws. The chap at the back
and Gunner is a military macaw.
He is the rarest of the parrots.
-They're all losing their natural rainforest home. Here we go, a result in the middle.
-He likes that?
-Is that a sign of enjoyment?
-He's absolutely loving that now.
He'll wiggle that down to the lower feathers.
-He's dancing there!
-That's Archie - he loves a bath in the morning.
-So you recognise all of them?
-Yeah, they're all individuals.
He's holding his arms out, turning around, scrubbing himself in the shower!
He really likes it.
Of course if you have a pet bird at home, a budgie, or a cockatiel...
-Or a parrot.
-..or a bigger parrot, they should have this as well.
-You can use greenfly misters. Put some water in - they adore it.
-How long will it take them to dry off?
They'll be dry in half an hour.
I'll go back and start with the first two we did
and give them another dose.
Excellent. Thank you for letting me help out with the showering.
We'll let them dry off.
Thomas Thynne, the first marquess of Bath,
changed the landscape of Longleat forever.
Despite the fact that he was in debt to the tune of £25 million in today's money,
the first marquess was determined to leave a legacy that would last for centuries.
It was he who called in England's greatest landscape designer -
Lancelot "Capability" Brown -
and together they swept away the extensive formal gardens
that used to surround the house, in favour of the natural look.
But to make this landscape look natural took a huge amount of work.
Capability Brown started a massive tree-planting scheme.
Kate Harris, the curator of historic collections, has the details.
In the first planting record, for start of October 1773, we've got...
clumps in the park - 300 ash, 38 large, 400 Scotch fir.
3,000 birches, 1,000 beech trees, and clumps as well on Park Hill.
They're keeping a running note of what they're achieving annually.
Each one concludes with a total.
So in the 1773/4 season,
they put in 91,258 trees.
Over a period of decades, whole forests of sapling trees
were planted across 500 acres,
all to a very precise plan designed by Brown.
He could envisage
what the landscape would look like when it matures.
That's probably the hallmark of a really good landscape gardener.
They must have that sense of prescience, and I think Capability Brown had it in spades.
There used to be a series of formal ponds and waterways
running through the gardens.
But that wouldn't do for Brown.
He had hundreds of labourers digging for years to create
the string of lakes and ponds we see today.
They look natural, but like much of this landscape,
it's completely man-made.
Lord Bath can see the pros and cons of both styles.
When the formal gardens were spread
as a panorama it wasn't exciting.
I daresay it might've been enjoyable on an evening's walk,
to go around the formal gardens, but as a panorama it wasn't exciting.
I think it was good that Capability Brown swept those away.
I feel the idea that we integrate the house into the park
with the leaves there, was a good idea.
The First Marquess died in 1796, still owing the equivalent
of £25 million pounds.
It sounds a lot, but those debts were paid off long ago.
Whereas his greatest legacy, this glorious landscape, lives on.
He used money extravagantly.
And although he put the house in order,
the debts did require to be put in order after his death.
Within this family it has been alternate marquesses
No, I'm not misbehaving, nor did my father. Nor HIS father.
We've recovered from that particular vice!
There's another baby boom going on down by Half Mile Lake.
A couple of weeks ago Jo-Jo had a little pup,
on the jetty for Gorilla Island.
But she wasn't the only sea lion who was expecting.
Head of section Mark Tye and myself have come down to Half Mile lake
where there has been some very exciting news -
Sealia the sea lion has given birth.
-Mark, is it OK for us to step down here?
It strikes me that it's fantastic she's given birth,
-but not so great that it's here on the pontoon.
-No. It's not ideal.
We've built them a beach down the other end of the lake
and they blanked it and don't want to know!
-The important question is how are mum and pup doing?
As you can see, very relaxed, the whole family group here.
We've got everyone - so at the end is Dad, that's Buster.
Buster. That's Sealia there in the middle.
-And slightly nearer, this is Jo-Jo, isn't it?
-This is Jo-Jo.
-And her recent pup closest to us here.
-Two weeks old.
-So how is everyone interacting with one another?
-Very well really.
Quite often they don't like being this close together,
particularly new mums and babies.
But they're doing really well.
As you can see they're relaxed, no aggression.
It's just a pain for us some mornings
because they're all over the pontoon and the bridges when we're trying to get to Gorilla Island.
We can see Nico over there keeping an eye on what's going on.
Now I know Jo-Jo was sometimes pulling her pup into the water,
when it shouldn't be going in.
How is Sealia doing with hers?
Sealia's been fine, she's kept her pup out of the water.
So there is no problem there.
Jo-Jo's been a bit of a pain since the new one came along.
She's taken her baby, taken it down to the beach,
stayed there for half a day and decided she didn't like it there
-so she brought it back.
-How did Jo-Jo get her pup to the beach and back?
Well, pups can't swim that far at that kind of age so mums literally
grab them by the scruff of their neck, like a mother dog would with its puppy,
-and literally swims it down the lake.
-OK, just nudges it along.
Um...but that pup's now quite agile
and has been in and out of the water on its own all the time.
-And have either of the pups got names yet?
-Are they getting on well?
The pups would love to get on well.
It's obvious that they want to play together but their mums are keeping them apart at the moment.
And we've got a boat in the background - they must be popular with the visitors here.
They are, all the seal lions are.
Unfortunately they're not popular when they're asleep here.
Of course! Slightly obscured from view.
Have you had a chance to sex the pup? Is it a male or female?
Er, no, I haven't been able.
She hasn't left it, so I haven't got hold of it to have a look. It's never in the right position.
But judging just on its look and the shape of its head,
I'm suggesting it might be a boy.
-Which is what Jo-Jo had.
So two boys are fine for now.
-They can stay here for a few years, is that right?
-They'll be fine here
for three years.
-But then we'd find a new home for them.
Well, Mark, thank you very much.
Kate and I are out on Half Mile Lake
with head of section Darren Beasley, who's steering the boat here.
We've come to catch a glimpse of Longleat's two lowland gorillas, Nico and Samba.
That's Nico running away there.
Am I right in thinking the colour of his hair gives away his age?
Yeah, he has grey hairs from maturity.
He's 45 years old now which is very old for a gorilla.
What is their life expectancy?
-In the wild it's as little as 20-25 years.
There are many dangers. They're losing their rainforest homes.
People still hunt and eat gorillas as part of the bush meat trade.
On the silverback markings -
one in five male gorillas get them about eight years old.
He is a magnificent silverback.
He's one of the best we've ever seen.
So the silverback would be the dominant male in a family.
-Is that right?
What happens is it's almost a genetic dominance.
They must work at it but the biggest, toughest silverback
with the best silver/grey markings,
he'll have the biggest harem, he'll look after the family,
and all the sub adults, and there'll be males in the group as well.
They'll plod along.
If he has his seniority rivalled, if you like,
he'll thrash a few bushes, through a few things in the air,
and it's all peace and quiet again.
-Just like a stroppy bloke!
Well, Darren, thank you very much indeed.
Sadly, that's all we've got time for today
but here's what's coming up on the next Animal Park.
A life-and-death situation
when the vet has to perform an emergency operation.
There's the before... and the after...
when we find out how to turn eggs into chicks.
And we'll discover what Mike, Michelle and Little Mandu, the marmosets,
make of the world's favourite pongs.
So don't miss the next Animal Park.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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Ben Fogle and Kate Humble explore life behind the scenes at Longleat Estate and Safari Park. Up at the great house, Lord Bath dishes the dirt on his great-great-great-great-grandfather. There is a baby boom across the Safari Park - Jojo and Celia have had pups, but will they share the nursery? And in Lion Country, Yendi has had a surprise litter of tiny cubs.