Ben Fogle and Kate Humble explore behind the scenes at Longleat. A baby giraffe is being obsessively groomed by her mum. Can the keepers stop her ear infection becoming fatal?
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Hello and welcome to Animal Park.
-I'm Ben Fogle...
-And I'm Kate Humble and we're in Pets Corner which has
more animals than the rest of the safari park put together.
Nearly 40 species and over 200 animals - and that's not including the ants.
Some of them are rather familiar, like Marina the guinea pig,
but some are a little bit more exotic.
Like Nelson the Moluccan cockatoo. Aren't you gorgeous?
We've got lots of stories from Pets Corner and all over the safari park today, including:
Little Gertie's being groomed
to within an inch of her life by her mum.
Can the keepers stop the ear infection becoming fatal?
Bob's Jeep has broken down in the lion enclosure.
But no-one wants to get out and push.
And, new house steward Steve Blythe lets us in on some secrets of the Great House.
I love that! It's so James Bond!
But first - the East Africa reserve is home to some of the park's most striking residents.
The Rothschild giraffe.
Over the years, the park has had a tremendously successful record of
breeding giraffes with more than 100 calves born here in the past.
Last year, 13 year-old Becky had a beautiful calf named Evelyn.
Giraffes bond with their calves by licking them.
But Becky would not stop licking Evelyn's ears and the calf developed an infection.
Because the ears were so badly affected,
mother and calf had to be separated.
Vet Duncan Williams was called in and gave the baby giraffe a course of antibiotics.
But despite all their efforts, head of section Andy Hayton
came in one morning to find his worst nightmare.
Little Evelyn had died.
'It's a disaster.'
It's a shame.
It is a crying shame that you've got a lovely little female giraffe
that was going to give us calves in the future
and she was a nice addition to the group and you lose her.
You always question what you've done,
whether you've done the right thing.
Vet Duncan carried out a post-mortem
to find out exactly what had killed the baby giraffe.
Basically, we've found what we kind of expected. She died from septicaemia.
It probably got into her system,
her heart, before the antibiotics were first administered.
So while we've kept her alive for a week with antibiotics,
it's just caught up with her and...
unfortunately that's what finished her off.
To lose a two-month old giraffe is very abnormal.
Once they get past the first week,
you generally think they're going to be OK.
That was very abnormal to lose one of that age.
I'm disappointed really.
This year brought better news in the giraffery.
Becky was pregnant again.
Staff kept a close watch throughout her pregnancy and were on hand with
a camera to film the first few hours of her new baby's life.
Now, Gertie is three weeks old.
To make sure all's well,
keeper Ryan Hockley monitors her progress every day.
The last thing we want is to go back into that
boat that we were in last time. It annoyed us that we lost that calf.
We certainly wouldn't like to fail a second time along the same lines.
The only other option we've got if we find her starting to mummy
away at those ears again is taking the calf away and hand-rearing it.
That's not really our ethos here at the giraffery or at Longleat.
We like mother-reared animals.
We find them to be much better adjusted animals
at the end of the day.
Hand-reared animals never really seem to be the full ticket.
So yes, we want her to rear it.
But despite Ryan's best efforts, he's now spotted some swelling on the calf's ears.
Because last time the infection was fatal so quickly,
head of section Andy Hayton immediately calls in vet Duncan.
It's slightly swollen.
When did the swelling come up?
In the past three or four days, I guess.
From a personal point of view, I'd like to have a closer look.
If Gertie's ears have become infected,
her life too could be in danger.
The safari park covers more than 310 acres and has seven miles of roads.
Last year, almost 200,000 cars drove round them.
The roads run right through the animal enclosures,
so that visitors can get a good look.
Keepers are posted at regular intervals to keep visitors safe.
But today, it's one of the staff who needs their help.
Keeper Bob Trollope is out with our film crew
getting some shots of the lion cubs at play.
But now they've got a little problem with the vehicle.
It's quite embarrassing at the moment.
We're in here filming the lions and my car won't start.
They're all around us and I need some assistance.
Seeing as you lot won't jump out and push it!
It's obviously an electrical fault.
I'll try it again.
No, not a thing.
This is all very embarrassing.
We're in a situation where anywhere else you'd most probably be able to get out
and push-start it or bump it yourself.
But with our neighbours just here, you don't really want to do that.
You could end up as lunch.
Even though Bob works with the lions every day,
he knows that if he were out in their enclosure,
they could well attack and kill him as they would any other prey.
We're perfectly safe at the moment because we're in the vehicle.
But if anyone gets out, obviously it will trigger off a response from the lions.
They would basically prey our movement
and with us getting out, we're obviously fair game to them.
So, the safest thing to do is for us to stay in here and let someone else get out.
Yes, you can come over and rescue me if you want!
Within minutes, head of section Brian Kent is on the scene, ready to tow the team to safety.
But to get a tow rope on Bob's vehicle,
someone's going to have to get out.
I phoned the RAC, but they won't come in!
Bob and Brian have practised the emergency procedure
for this situation many times
in case they have to rescue visitors.
But they didn't expect to have to rescue each other!
First, Brian drives the lions into a corner.
Then with Craig Faggeter standing lookout,
there's a chance to get the rope on.
I don't quite know where all the lions have gone.
I saw a few run over in that direction.
Hopefully, Brian's moved all the lions...
..and Craig's looking out that way and I'm looking out this way.
I take it all the lions are over that side, are they?
Are the lions over there?
They're in the corner, Bob.
-I really think they should get you a new truck, Bob.
There might be a bit of a jolt in a second.
With the rope safely in place,
the keepers manage to jump-start the jeep.
The emergency procedure has worked perfectly.
It was more embarrassing for me than anyone else I reckon.
Now, we're fine now. I shall keep the engine running for a little while!
The lions didn't even notice.
You could have got out and push-started it!
It looks like the lions will have to wait a little longer for their lunch!
Amid almost 9000 acres of estate grounds
stands Longleat's magnificent great house.
One of the most important historic houses in the country,
it was built more than 400 years ago in the reign of Elizabeth I.
The vast building costs more than £1 million a year to run.
It has 114 official rooms full of priceless paintings and antiques.
In charge of all of this is Longleat's house steward.
Ken Winders held that role for the last 14 years,
but recently he decided to retire
and handed over to his former deputy, Steve Blythe.
Steve's had a few days now to settle in
and already he's right at home in his new role.
When I asked house steward Steve Blythe what his favourite room at Longleat House was,
he said this one, right at the top of the house.
I have to say, Steve, excellent choice, cos it's my favourite, too.
A fantastic room.
It's just got a very human feeling about it.
There's something very warm about it.
-It's lived in, it's family, it's lovely.
-It is lovely.
I think books always help, though.
It's one of seven libraries here - 40,000 books in the collection.
-And here's just a few of them.
They're amazing! So what was it about this room?
When did you first come in here?
My first week here, previous to me starting,
there'd been some work going on here and the rooms were all stripped out.
My first job was polishing the floors.
So the first thing you did when you came to Longleat to work was to polish these floors.
-Quite a job, I should think.
-Quite a job, but they came up so nice, it was lovely doing it.
And was that what really made you think that you loved this room?
We then put the room back together and it was, "Oh, wow!"
Putting in the bits and pieces.
It's full of surprises, isn't it?
One of them is little hideaway storage areas.
I love that.
It's so James Bond!
This is the size of my spare room, for heaven's sake!
-It's just a little cupboard behind a bookcase.
-And more books!
And more books.
As well as books, the library holds many family mementos.
It's just a room full of everything.
It's a treasure chest, isn't it?
Here, for instance, we've got some stirrups.
I didn't even realise that they did wooden stirrups.
-Can I touch it?
How amazing! Look at that.
In here, we've got a knuckle-duster.
-It was taken off a poacher back in the 1800s.
So this would have been worn on a... He must have had huge fingers!
Quite a big chap, I would imagine.
If he was that size, you'd think he wouldn't need a knuckle-duster!
That's incredible! And they just kept it?
Yes, so the gamekeeper was out there doing his job.
Keeping it protected. And one other thing I love which is in the next room
is, again, that very human thing.
You forget in houses like this that real families lived in them and still do.
Kids run around. It's the shell collection.
Thousands of shells.
Thousands of shells, but it's just something that all of us do.
You go to a beach and you pick up shells.
I love the fact that they've got that,
and a little jar of cowrie shells collected by the sixth Marquis.
-A day out on the beach.
I'm so pleased you picked this room, Steve.
My very favourite.
-It is lovely, thank you very much for bringing me up.
Back over at the giraffery, head of section, Andy Hayton,
has called in vet Duncan Williams to examine Gertie.
They're worried because the baby's ears are swollen from being licked
by her mother Becky and without treatment, they could become infected.
Nobody's really seen Becky nibbling the ears.
We think she's coming in at night.
And when the calf sits down she's licking the calf's ears then.
If she does go for them when she's upright and we're all here,
the calf walks away quite unceremoniously, does not want it being done to her.
So I think Becky's taking her opportunity when she can get it, which is even more annoying.
This is the first time Gertie has been handled.
It takes five keepers to restrain her so that vet Duncan can examine her and administer treatment.
I'm just going to spray them and give her an antibiotic.
She's split the two sides of the cartilage and there's a gap in it at the moment.
It's just leaking. So the serumy stuff is not infected yet.
But that's going to be the next stage.
Down in three? One, two, three.
Cleaned it up as best we could, put some local antibiotic on it and given her an antibiotic injection.
Her last baby, Evelyn, she did the same thing with her.
We lost the tips of both ears and they got so infected
that she actually went into septicaemic shock and died.
It's a real nightmare. We can't take the baby off her.
She's got a natural bond there. But if her mother keeps doing this,
we could have future problems.
So we're being very, very vigilant.
It's a big worry. It's history repeating itself again.
It's infuriating more than worrying.
"Why do you have to do this to your baby?", kind of thing.
What we're going to do is treat it far more intensively than we did last time. We're just going to go for it.
In the unfortunate circumstances that happened last summer, we lost the baby.
We did hold back slightly cos we didn't want to stress the calf by grabbing it
and pulling her around and things like that. It didn't work.
During the day, the giraffes live outside in the East Africa reserve
where keeper Katharine Kendall is on patrol.
Becky takes every opportunity to try to lick the calf's ears with her 18 inch tongue.
But Gertie is learning to be nervous of her mother's attentions.
She's really, really feisty. She's very headstrong.
She'll only do what she wants to do, when she wants to do it which is brilliant.
She's put Mum in her place already.
Mum will come up and try to groom her and maybe lick her ears
and she'll shake her off straightaway. It's absolutely brilliant.
At night-time, the giraffes move back into their house.
The staff want to keep mother and calf together if at all possible,
but this is when Gertie is in most danger.
We'll be back to see if she can escape her mother's unwanted attentions.
I'm down in the hot house at Pets Corner with keeper Val McGroover.
We've come to help with the dental care for some of the fluffiest residents.
So, Val, what's the plan and what's all this about?
We've got 10 chinchillas in this enclosure and they live in here.
They're rodents and rodents' teeth continuously grow, so they need to be worn down.
So chewing away on nice bits of wood is an excellent way of doing it.
-Brilliant, so can we open this up?
-Yes, we can.
Is the plan to literally put this all around?
-That's right, yes. We lay bits of sticks around the place.
We've already got some nice big logs in there.
-Do they mind us being in here?
-No, they don't mind. They're used to people coming in and out.
With a lot of animals, the more you handle them, the more you deal with them, the better they are.
So they're used to us coming in and out all day long.
Going back to their teeth - if you didn't distribute this stuff around their enclosure, what would they do?
Right, if they don't have enough things to chew on,
their teeth would grow and grow and they'd be deformed.
Eventually they wouldn't be able to eat so they'd starve.
It's so important to have these branches and things like that.
-Have you just collected these branches from around the estate?
Of course, we've a lovely estate here so we've got plenty of woods to choose from. You go for hardwoods.
-Softwoods would be poisonous.
Where do we want to put these?
If you direct me.
Around this side?
That would be nice, actually, by the window.
Is it a healthy mix of male and female?
-Yes, we have. We have got some castrated males in here.
We have a few females.
Because we've got a nice group, we don't want to spoil that.
-They all get on quite well.
-I don't know if the camera can see that pile of the chinchillas over there.
Are they are social creatures? Do they enjoy each other's company?
They do. They love to snuggle together.
They come from the Andes, Chile, Peru, 3000 to 5000 feet up the mountain.
They would go in little holes and things like this.
Obviously, it gets quite chilly, that's why they've got all the thick fur.
Also, snuggling up together helps to keep them warm.
I have to ask, around the walls I can see lots of crumbling paint.
Is that because it hasn't been decorated for a while?
No, it was decorated not that long ago.
Because they chew, they tend to test chew on things to see what it is.
So they will chew on virtually anything that's going.
You can see where they've been chewing on the thicker branches here as well.
No, unfortunately, they've started on the walls as well.
They are very sweet. Look at this one down here trying to escape.
Well, Val, thank you very much for letting me accompany you in here.
I think we should leave the chinchillas to enjoy their new wood.
It's been a worrying few days at the giraffery
where over-affectionate mum, Becky, is still licking her calf too much.
Gertie's ears are swollen and there's a risk they could become infected.
Now head of section, Andy Hayton, has been forced to take a difficult decision.
We've actually split her away from her mum in the evenings now.
She's in the next box to Becky.
We believe Becky was doing most of the nibbling at night.
So what we're doing we have to come in every night at 10 and we let mum in with the baby for half-an-hour.
The baby feeds and fills up and then Becky is actually quite happy to come away from the calf.
It seems to be working really, really well.
Last time we did that too late.
To make sure the ear doesn't get worse, vet, Duncan Williams, needs to give her more antibiotics.
The staff must be careful.
A fully grown giraffe can kill a lion with one kick and even a baby could cause a nasty injury.
Being restrained might be a bit stressful for Gertie, but it is necessary.
Every member of staff knows exactly what they have to do.
-Are you all right?
-Yes, we're happy.
Did anyone get caught with those front legs?
-Not too bad.
-It doesn't hurt, actually.
-I just wrapped mine around.
-You've got steel toecaps on though.
I'll just do this under the skin behind her shoulder.
I'll do it where you are, Damian, if you just move back a wee bit.
Did you get any swelling after the last one?
-Oh, she felt that one.
-That's it, done. Ready.
OK. Ready. Just let her go. OK.
After the injection Gertie is allowed back with mum to feed.
Now that Duncan has had a closer look, he's pleased with her progress.
I gave her antibiotics against the infection.
The biggest thing, really, has been the change of management.
No-one's seen her licking it during the day.
It obviously happens at night. What they're doing, really, is
by separating them at night and then coming in the middle of the night and giving the baby a feed,
it's making a big difference and preventing this constant trauma.
That's what happened with the last baby.
The constant trauma we were unable to prevent
that caused her death, really.
If things carry on as they are,
she'll have a slightly
gnarled thickened ear,
but it will be virtually imperceptible
and obviously, we've got a healthy baby.
It's the news the keepers have been waiting to hear.
Gertie is out of danger.
It's a relief to know we're doing the right thing.
None of us like splitting babies away from mums at this early age.
It's infuriating that Becky does this to her calves and you have to take measures like this.
After last year's tragedy,
all the staff are delighted that Gertie's doing so well.
Evelyn was so quiet.
This one, she's a real fighter.
She's got a real attitude, this one.
The next one may be different.
You don't know. Everybody takes illness and pain differently.
I think Evelyn almost gave up. This one is better. We're doing well.
Another striking African species now living at Longleat are the massive Ankole cattle.
Native to the grasslands of Uganda and Central Africa, the Ankole are
adapted to tolerate extreme summer temperatures of up to 50 degrees.
Blood circulates through their large horns which act as radiators
to release the heat and cool the cattle down.
We're out in the new area with head of section, Tim Yeo.
We've come to have a look at the Ankole cattle which are truly magnificent.
-They are real show-offs of the cow world, aren't they?
-Very much, Kate.
All these different colours as well.
Presumably this big boy here is the bull, is it?
Exactly, Ben, yes.
This is Bobby the herd bull
and he has a wonderful time within this enclosure.
-All the rest of them are female in here?
-Not all of them, no.
We have a castrated male just over here with the large horns
looking straight at us.
Looking straight at us, right.
If he weren't castrated
would that mean that the two of them would fight?
Are they quite territorial about their females?
Very much so, Kate.
When he believes he can perhaps chance his luck
and take over the herd, he'll fight like nothing.
It may sound a strange question,
but if two males are fighting, is it down to the size of their horns
-or is it how they use them?
-I think it's weight, strength and size.
I mean, if they're equally matched,
they can go on for ages and ages, just pushing each other around,
and you cannot split them up.
I've tried it before. They'll go back together and just push and push.
Amongst the females, is there any ranking?
Do you have a top female and a lower female?
Or are they just totally equal?
No, there's a different pecking order within the group
and there is a hierarchy.
Some females are dominant over others, certainly.
That is always changing within the herd.
From time to time, it's changing.
These cows, these females can fight very aggressively.
Were looking at them now and they're quite placid.
But believe me, they will fight terrible, it's frightening to see.
It's hard to imagine, isn't it?
They all look very peaceful and very loving but they've got this hidden, aggressive nature.
That's women for you!
-I should end there!
-I think you should.
-Tim, thank you very much.
Sadly, that's all week we've got time for today.
Here's what's coming up on the next Animal Park.
The time has come for Sienna the sea lion pup
to leave Mum and start her further education.
In the Great Hall, we'll see 10,000-year-old proof that giants once roamed this land.
And we'll be helping to install some disabled access ramps
because the tigers aren't as young as they used to be.
That's all coming up on 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.
Baby giraffe Gertie is being obsessively groomed by her mum, so can the keepers stop her ear infection becoming fatal?
In Lion Country, keeper Bob's jeep has broken down, but no-one wants to get out and push. And new house steward Steve Blyth lets us in on some secrets of the Great House.