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Hello and welcome to Animal Park.
-I'm Ben Fogle.
-And I'm Kate Humble,
and we're here with one of Longleat's newest arrivals.
This tiny little thing is a baby tapir, the fifth calf
born to proud parents, Jessie and Jethro.
Isn't he the most adorable thing?
I can't get over how sweet he is and as you can see he's still got
all his spots and stripes that all tapirs are born with.
This is to help camouflage them in the wild and protect them from any would be predators.
It's extremely tempting to stay here with him all day
but we've got lots of other animals coming up on today's programme, haven't we Jess?
The time has come for Sianna the sea lion pup
to leave Mum and start her further education.
In the Great Hall I'll see 10,000-year-old proof
that giants once roamed this land.
And I'll be helping to install some disabled access ramps
because the tigers aren't as young as they used to be.
But first, viewers of a squeamish disposition should look away now.
On the plains of Africa, vultures feast on a fresh carcass. It's not a pretty sight.
There are few creatures with so grim a reputation,
many people think of them as the harbingers of doom,
the ghoulish scavengers that feed on death...
and that's one reason why Longleat got themselves
a whole flock of African white-backed vultures,
to show people just how wonderful these birds really are.
Last year they came from Holland and have recently been released
into their brand new aviary.
It's a massive space, one of the largest in Britain with all mod cons
but it still needs one more thing to make it feel like home.
I'm up in the vulture aviary with Head of Section, Mark Tye,
and we're going to do a spot of nest building today.
-Yes, we're going to attempt to.
-So what have we got in the bag?
-Mixture of some evergreen.
And some lime twigs that we get off the gardeners down the bottom.
They cut the trees every year so we take all the sticks.
we're going to make a nest for the vultures, which sounds strange.
I don't think of vultures as nesting birds.
Well, they do obviously build a nest to lay their egg in,
but unfortunately there's not enough material in the exhibit for them
so we have to bring it in.
OK. Now we've got Andy Hayton in there - hi, Andy -
-and Andy's going to lift us up basically.
-So are we going up to that level up there?
-About three metres.
OK, so I'll get in
and we're basically going to build the nest in these platforms, are we?
Yeah, that's right.
You know, we put these boxes up for them
and we're going to put some nesting material in for the birds.
OK and how many of these do you have around?
-We've got four around the exhibit.
-Four of these platforms.
Right, how much? That's about right, isn't it?
Great. So is it just a case of getting it all out now?
We'll put this evergreen on the bottom
cos it'll provide a bit of cover from underneath,
-from draughts and stuff.
-Right, a bit of insulation.
If we're building this nest, breeding is a real possibility then?
Yeah, yes, we're quite surprised because we thought
-it would take longer for the birds to settle into the enclosure.
We've seen some of them on the ground pulling out the grasses
and offering it to the females as nesting materials.
Oh, really? So you've seen them actually looking for materials
to build a nest like this?
Yes. So we thought it's only helpful for them
if we could put this up to start with. It may give them
a bit more of a spur to get on with it.
This must be a fantastic sign for you, cos they haven't been here long.
No, I mean I was not expecting anything until next year.
It may be prove to be too late for this year -
I mean, their incubation period is 56 days.
-And bearing in mind even if they lay in the next few weeks,
that would be the end of May,
you'd look at the end of July for the chick to hatch
and then four months before the chick...
Which is pretty late in the year, really.
The chick would take about four months to be fully grown
and leave the nest so that would be November time,
so may be too late this year.
It must be a good sign that they are going through the motions even?
Absolutely. And the fact that within a few months
they look like they're going to lay eggs or possibly lay eggs is great.
Really exciting. So how soon do you anticipate
they'll come over and start adjusting and moving the furniture?
That's the unknown really, we don't know how long it will take them.
They've been on these platforms, so they're quite safe and happy with those,
whether they do anything with the sticks, we'll have to see.
Well, thank you very much for letting me help you,
fingers crossed and we'll keep you posted
on the progress of the vultures throughout the series.
The seven Californian sea lions that live in Half Mile Lake
are among Longleat's most reliable parents.
There's usually a new pup or two every spring
but where they choose to have them has been a problem.
A few years ago, Ozzy gave birth on board one of the tour boats.
And then there was the time
when they decided that the landing stage on Gorilla Island
would make a good nursery which made it rather difficult
to get into the house so after that, work began
to build the sea lions their very own beach.
It was to be an engineering marvel constructed of steel and concrete
along with plenty of rock specially sourced from a local quarry.
Deputy Head Warden Ian Turner kept a close eye on construction.
We are at the sea lion beach. I know it doesn't look like a beach,
a few things have slightly changed.
We've done a concrete base which actually slopes down into the water.
These two blokes you see behind me have been working their butts off,
moving rocks about because they've got to be so big
that sea lions can't move them but big enough that they can be handled.
You know, we've had crow bars and wedging them so it's been good fun.
When it was finished, the sea lions took to it straight away.
Amongst the first to give birth on the beach was 12-year-old Celia.
Her pup was named Seanna.
Now it's almost a year later and Sianna has grown well.
She's still staying close to Mum and she's not yet fully weaned
but her carefree youth is about to come to an abrupt end,
because soon Celia will have a new pup to look after.
Keeper Michelle Stevens will be helping with this difficult transition.
A pup will actually suckle for about anything up to a year
and then we'll actually have to take her away
from the mum and wean her totally away from Celia
so that she can't suckle or see her mum.
We do have live fish in the lake so the pup would have experimented
already catching her own, playing around with it,
so it's kind of instinctual to catch fish
but she's just not eatingdead fish at the moment.
That's something we have to get her on to.
So as well as the separation from her mother,
Seanna will have to learn to cope with a new diet.
In the wild, weaning can be more difficult
because there it's up to the mothers to drive their youngsters away.
Once last year's pup's old enough, she will chase that one off
and give birth and she'll then need time to bond with her new pup,
so it's important that Seanna's not lingering around while that happens.
The pup will be taken out of the water, out of the lake
and then put into the sea-lion holding pen
and she'll probably be left in there, maybe for a couple of months,
we'll do some training with her and just get her used to us,
used to eating dead fish.
It may seem harsh to split up mother and youngster but it is a natural process.
In the wild they've got lots of room to get away from the mum,
the mum will push the baby away.
Here, because even though the lake is actually really large,
it's half a mile long, it's still enclosed
so the pup will always go back the mother
no matter what, really,
so it's really important that we do take them away,
get her completely away from Mum so she can't see her, can't smell her
or communicate with her.
We'll be back later to see what happens to Seanna
when she's separated from her mother for the first time in her life.
Longleat House is more than four centuries old.
It's got well over a hundred rooms and welcomes a quarter of a million visitors each year.
So the person in charge of looking after it all has a lot on their plate.
For 14 years, that person was Ken Windas
but he's just retired as House Steward
and gone off for a well-earned holiday,
though he will be coming back in a new role as House Conservator.
In the meantime, Kate's gone to find out how they're getting on without him.
-I'm in the house with new House Steward Steve Blithe, how's it going, Steve?
-Very well so far.
Yeah, two weeks in the job about?
-One and a half.
-Is it, are you counting the days already?
-And counting, yes, yes.
-So I mean obviously you were
working with Ken Windas, the old House Steward, for many years
but how does it feel to be in sole charge?
-Huge responsibility, it is.
You know this house, 425 years old.
Yeah, so many rooms, so many precious things in it.
I mean what do you do as a sort of day-to-day thing?
What type of things do you have to do?
It's the general running of the house really, the overview of the house,
the planning of the future, what's happening today, the staffing,
-Do you have a huge, long list every day of things to tick off?
Yeah, but you never get to the bottom of it.
As you move down you just add on.
Now I gather that Ken has left you with a rather large task, which is quite mean of him.
Yeah, he went away on holiday just at the right time but the good news is
I'm going to wait until he returns before we hang them.
So tell me about these because we are in the Great Hall at the moment.
-Yep, Great Hall.
-And there are already some antlers up, have these been taken down...
Yeah, they've been down and cleaned. We clean those each winter.
These needed quite a bit of work doing on them, these are giant fallow deer, Irish elk.
They are astonishing, absolutely astonishing.
Giant fallow deer don't exist anymore, do they?
No, these came from Ireland out of the peat bog.
-Oh, right so these are prehistoric ones?
How amazing! I mean they're just immense,
you can't imagine how any animal could walk around
with such an enormous weight on their head.
Presumably they weigh as much as they look like they do?
They do, they do weigh an absolute ton
and the problem is with them is centralising the weight
when you try to lift them because all of this weight is out here,
it just dives at you, just tips forward so...
-..I can only guess the animal itself had a huge rump.
To sort of weigh it down at the back.
-To keep the gravity down, yeah.
-So what's being done to these now?
They look in astonishing condition for something that's prehistoric.
Yeah, well, if truth be known it's only the skull
-and the first part that are real.
-Is that right?
Yes, the rest is plaster and timber.
So they've reconstructed them.
They've reconstructed, yeah, and over the years that had cracked and deteriorated,
sp they've been away, been worked on
and now they're back in beautiful condition, ready to be re-hung.
That is amazing. Absolutely fantastic.
So how on earth are you, even if you manage to get Ken back -
He won't mind me pointing out he's a little shorter than you.
-Just a bit.
-How's he going to help you get them back up onto the walls?
OK, well this one in particular lives just over there, over that sconce
and our plan of action is we've got a company coming in,
they're going to build us a scaffold tower that's mobile
which has an arm with a winch on it.
So we winch it up, we can swing the arm around, get it in position.
Our problem then is just this weight thing, to tilt the weight.
How do you actually physically attach it to the wall?
-You can't just put up a picture tack.
-Those two hooks up there are ready to receive it
but also we are going to put another safety wire on there,
so when Ken comes back his first job will be to drill through the panel,
put another couple of eyes on the wall for a safety back up.
Belt and braces really.
Steve, very good luck.
I'm glad you're enjoying it so far, I can't wait to see these back up
-because they are magnificent.
-OK, thank you.
As you approach your golden years, there comes a time when you find
that your walk is a little stiffer than it used to be.
When practicing your pounce just isn't that interesting anymore
and even the thought of a high-speed chase
is enough to make you want to go inside for a lie down.
Sonar and Gadoo have reached that time in their lives,
they're almost the older tigers in Britain,
so now they need a little extra help.
I'm up in the tiger enclosure with Head of Section, Brian Kent
and Deputy, Bob Trollope.
Brian, what are we actually doing here today?
We're trying to make a little ramp for the tigers to get onto the stand.
These platforms have been here a long time?
For many years now, yeah.
And have you noticed a decrease in the tigers' use of this area.
They used to use it pretty well but at the moment,
I think because of their age, you know, arthritic and everything,
they're finding it hard to get up.
So we need to do something to encourage them back up.
OK, so, Bob you're busy marking away there. How exactly is it gonna work?
We've got this ramp here - anything going to be added to this?
-Well, we're going to add a mat.
-One of these ones over here?
-And is this purely to make it non-slip?
-Well, it is,
-a double function thing really, help them with their grip obviously.
But also with their nails, because they're having problems
scratching on the trees and things
we are actually hoping that they will use this to dig their claws in
and actually clean the old nail off.
You know as an aid to it.
-So it's multi-purpose?
And we'll have one ramp here and then another going up.
-Up to the higher level, yeah.
-And I noticed this - can we call this a big cat toy?
Yes, it's a big cat toy, hopefully it will stand the test of time
and this is just, while they're over here,
just to give them something else to do.
Why are we trying to encourage them up onto this?
In the wild would they look for high vantage points?
They do, obviously because they can look around their territory
and see any predators or, you know, rivals coming up.
Right, and you know, do you think this is going to work?
-I suppose that's the...
-I think these are.
You think so, possibly, I suppose you really can't second guess
what the tigers are going to do.
Hanging this bit of rope on as well might encourage them to come over.
They're naturally inquisitive.
Yeah, so hopefully it will work.
Fantastic, join us later in the programme when we'll see what they make of our DIY.
Back at Half Mile Lake, Celia the sea lion is expecting a baby.
So that she can feed and cope with the new pup, her old pup Seanna
has now been moved into the sea lion holding pen.
It's only a temporary measure, in a couple of months
she should be ready to rejoin the others back in the lake.
As well as looking after the vultures,
Mark Tye is also the keeper in charge of the sea lions.
He's been getting Seanna used to eating fish.
Some can be fussy, some don't like heads, for example,
when we wean them and we have to cut the heads off
and they for some reason won't eat them.
Some don't like tails and we have to chop that off but it's all...
Initially, you're pampering to their whim just to get them to eat
but once they're eating and realise that you're the supply of food,
you can introduce your heads, your tails and everything
and they will soon pick that up.
-Seanna has adjusted to an all-fish diet quickly,
but there's something else Mark needs to get her used to at this stage.
If she was ever to get sick or have a medical emergency,
it's something that could save her life.
The problem is that the sea lions here have the whole lake to swim in,
so if one wanted to hide, it would be almost impossible to find it
and with their speed and agility,
there's just no way that any of them could ever be caught.
So the question is how to do routine health checks?
The answer is very simple, train them to co-operate.
Now what we want to introduce is
a degree of control, if you like,
and the first thing is to get them to stay in one particular spot,
which is why we've got the small wooden sort of disc on the floor
and it's getting her to stay on that particular spot
for as long as you can get her to stay there,
and the way we do that it initially they'll stand on it out of curiosity
and I have a whistle
and as soon as they touch it for the first time,
you blow the whistle and instantly give them a piece of fish.
They soon pick up the fact that when they do something correct,
the whistle gets blown, they get a piece of fish.
They are a smart creature and they're also pretty greedy,
so they soon pick up the fact that the noise means food.
OK, good girl, well done.
Seanna's doing great, I'm chuffed with her.
I mean, for two weeks - to get her to stand on that wooden disc in there
and I have now actually introduced moving her into a pen,
get her to stand on one in there and bring her back out,
put her back on the original one and leave without her chasing me out.
I'm pretty chuffed with that, that's good.
Whether that's something that's come down in her genes because her father,
Buster is also a very well-trained sea lion,
although he chooses now not to bother because he's got a lake to swim in,
but he's very clever and very clued up
and you'll probably find that some of that has come down in the genes into her.
In fact, she's almost too keen to learn.
We're done sweetheart.
Seanna, Seanna, we're finished.
Seanna's doing so well, Mark is hoping to move on to what they call "target training".
We'll be back to see how that goes later on.
Earlier on, Head of Section Brian Kent and Deputy, Bob Trollope and I made some DIY amendments
in the tiger enclosure and now the two tigers are coming along to investigate.
What do you think they'll make of those adjustments.?
I think they'll be totally bemused by them, really.
-Hopefully they'll use them.
Because the idea was to make it easier for them to get up.
To get up onto the platforms.
Look Gadoo's having a good old sniff, so she knows it's there.
-Sonar's more interested in us.
-Yeah, hopefully she will, no.
No, she's kind of moving off.
-Sonar is the male, he went wandering off in front of the Land Rover.
-And how old is he again?
-Which is a ripe old age.
Very, very old and you've got Gadoo over by those ropes.
She's sniffing those ropes at the moment.
She's 21, so you know, she's extremely old, extremely old.
Are you hoping to kind of breathe some new life into
them by just encouraging them to play and to be more active?
Well, hopefully yeah,
-they are old tigers and Gadoo does have her moments of youthfulness...
Whether this will encourage her to do anything I don't know.
They're both not sure, I mean they're sniffing away, aren't they?
They know we've been around there and we've been doing things.
You've got to realise it's all new to them, so they are going to be a little bit cautious and,
you know, they don't know whether it's going to hurt them or not,
so they take a little while before they trust it, I suppose.
Now one of the things you were hoping for, Bob,
was that they'll use the mats to sharpen their claws or to...
-certainly, like they would do on the trees?
-Yeah, well hopefully...
She's put her foot on it, oh, she's going up there! Oh, that's good.
-Just test it out.
-Just test it out, at least that's a step forward, I suppose.
Absolutely and is that literally just...
-testing its strength, just seeing what it's all about?
I don't know if that's a positive thing though that they walked away after.
-That's what she thinks.
-Sonar's a bit cautious. He's not too sure about that.
But he's... They're curious about the big cat toy though?
They are, as I was saying, it's all new to them so and it's got smells on there
from us, and obviously the people who
made the ropes. It's all new smells to them, you know?
And would they actually kind of scent mark? Do they leave their own smells on things?
They will eventually, when they're
used to everything, they will sort of spray on it and make it their own.
I think that's it now.
-That's the end of that.
-That's the excitement of the day for them.
-And for us.
-But are you hopeful, perhaps, that given some time they might become more brazen and brave?
-They may come back later on and perhaps have a go, probably when we're not here.
-And you know, if it works, it works.
Thank you very much, and of we'll follow
the tigers' progress and see what they make of their cat wraps.
Back at the sea lion holding pen,
Mark Tye is still working on young Seanna's training.
Now he's using a method called target training.
Initially when you first put the target towards them, they
sniff it, so that's the first they do and as soon as they do that,
it's whistle, reward.
Then it's building that up until she'll put her nose on it and again stretching out the time
before you give the whistle and the reward. Then you can start leading her around,
she'll follow it about. She's staying still on the log, following the target. I want
get her to walk behind me and move along, then she'll follow me out the pen, in the pen.
The aim of this training is so that Seanna will be able to co-operate
should she need veterinary attention, either routine or in an emergency.
She seems quite comfortable with lying down.
It's just now moving...getting to a point where I'm confident and have to try and introduce touch
and feeling her flippers and running my hand down her back, so that in the future we can actually
examine her and check for any wounds or problems she may have.
She just seems to have picked it up quickly
and she hasn't bitten me yet. That's a pretty good sign.
In fact, Seanna is one of the best pupils
Mark's ever had, though she has her good days and her bad days.
Last time when we came in we were just getting her to stand on the stump in there,
which she's picked up really well now.
A little bit dodgy on the coming outside, she wants to keep chasing me out of the gate,
but that's just a slight problem which can easily be corrected, she'll soon pick that back up.
She was really good, has gone a little bit bad with it but she'll go back to being good again.
A sea lion has to be a little bit co-operative
in its own right to do this. If it doesn't want to, it won't.
So it's just a case of getting a good bond with her in here,
moving her back down to the lake in the hippo pen there,
carrying on with the same regime in there for a while and then releasing
her back to the lake and then trying to get her back in.
We'll be back to catch up with Seanna later in the series,
when it's time for her to join her family out in the wide open lake.
We're out in the deer park with Head of Section Tim Yeo and the red deer
that are all gathered around us getting food.
They need extra food, presumably, at this time of year, do they?
They certainly do, Kate, yes. Although they're very hardy animals these, completely hardy,
but we do need to substitute the natural food.
Who's this friendly one that's eating out of my hand here?
Ben, this is actually O28, we call her O28.
O28, that's very...genius name.
They're robotic red deer.
They do have numbers? Is that how you keep an eye on them?
She does actually have a tag number and that's where it comes from.
Looking around at the herd, one thing is very noticeable, you've got
one male right in the middle there,
with the most magnificent antlers and then a couple of others with...
Frankly, it looks like a couple of twigs sticking out of their head. What's going on there, Tim?
-Very different, isn't it?
I mean, Kate, that literally is age, that's all it is.
They are only youngsters, about two years old, and our herd stag there,
we're talking six or seven years old.
It's quite a difference though, quite quickly, I mean, to go from sort of a twig
at two to a whole beautiful topiary by the time they're six is an impressive difference.
Certainly, and to be honest...I mean there are some two-year-old stags
-or even yearling stags that produce massive antlers.
It's somewhat down to genetics. I mean, it can be... and feed as well, good feed.
So this one has obviously done well and is hardy as you say, can cope
-with the bleak conditions and hold on to these magnificent antlers.
-He is magnificent.
-He really is. It is.
-Fantastic, Tim, thank you very much.
-That's all then?
-Sadly, that is all we've got time for on
today's programme but here's what's coming up on the next Animal Park.
We'll be getting to know the safari park's most decorated new arrival, that little baby tapir.
There's an army trying to eat Longleat's treasures,
we'll be reporting on the latest battle in the war on bugs.
And up in Wolf Wood, everyone's getting
ready for the next litter of cubs, the pack are getting frisky and the keepers have built a new nursery.
It looks very cosy.
We'll have all that and more next time on Animal Park.
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