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Hello, and welcome to Animal Park.
-I'm Ben Fogle...
-And I'm Kate Humble, and we are
out in the East Africa reserve, which is home to giraffes, zebras,
llamas, camels and ostrich.
And also wallabies, tapirs, guinea fowl and giant tortoises and pygmy goats.
With all these animals, we've got a whole host of stories for you on today's programme, including:
The lion cubs' latest challenge.
If they want any dinner, they'll have to take on Mum and Dad.
I'll find out why the chameleons like nothing better than to get caught in the rain.
And the keepers must take desperate measures
when a rare stag gets hopelessly tangled in wire.
But first we're going up to lion country because it's a big day for the two cubs in Kabir's pride.
Malaika and Jasira are going to get the chance to hunt the feed truck for the very first time.
They'll have to learn to chase, grab and hold on to their dinner.
But more than that, they're going to need to stand up for themselves.
Already in their young lives they've faced a series of challenges,
under the close supervision of keepers Bob Trollope and Brian Kent.
First came inoculations, starting from when they were six weeks old.
Then the cubs learnt about the great outdoors, where
they could play with each other after two months of separation.
They also had to meet their dad, Kabir, face to face for the first time.
So far, it's all gone well, and now they're in the process of
being weaned, swapping their mother's milk for raw meat.
Everything is at it would be in the wild.
The little one still goes to Mum for a drink.
She's not there as long because she doesn't need so much
because she's eating the meat now, and she's drinking water.
But Malaika now, she doesn't seem to go to Mum. Maybe Mum's dried up.
They're at that stage where they're semi-weaned.
As you can see, some nice teeth in there, some nice little claws to hold onto the meat.
And the tongue is like a little rasp.
All it is is very coarse hair.
It's what they use for stripping sinew off the bones,
and also for when they're cleaning themselves.
Malaika has a particularly good appetite, just like her dad.
He likes his food, so if there's a lot of it around, he'll try and pinch others'.
So we've got to be careful when he's outside that he doesn't grab all the meat off all the others.
You've got to watch him all the time.
So the cubs' next meal won't be so easy.
If they want to eat, Malaika and Jasira are going to have to chase,
grab and hold a big joint on the bone out in the open enclosure,
and they may well have to fight Dad for it.
We'll see if they rise to the challenge later on.
I'm in Pets Corner with keeper Sarah Clayson
and one of Longleat's two magnificent chameleons.
Sarah, this is such a treat.
-They are the most beautiful creatures.
-They are, definitely.
He's got his mouth open. Is that a threat thing to you?
Is he saying, "Back off and leave me alone"?
Yeah. Occasionally, we're all right, and you can handle them, but they are quite moody sometimes.
You never know what mood they're going to be in.
Can I take that and have a good look at him? He's quite heavy actually.
The first thing everyone tells you about chameleons is that they change
colour so they completely merge in with their background.
I can't say he has changed into oak leaf colour,
but he has gone these remarkable bright colours.
-What happens there?
-It tends to be related to the mood they're in,
so because he's by us and he feels a bit nervous around us,
he will flare up quite brightly as a display warning to us.
Oh, right. The other thing you notice having him here on the branch
are these extraordinary feet that seem so perfectly adapted to walking along trees.
-Yeah, they're like mittens!
-They really are.
They've actually got five toes on each foot, but they're fused together,
and helps them move along branches easily, and get a better grip.
He's gripping me now. Is he all right?
Yeah, he's comfortable there.
He's absolutely beautiful.
The crest on top of his head, does that show whether he's male or female, or is it just
this particular sort of chameleon that has that?
Male and female chameleons have them, but the females' are quite a lot smaller.
The males use them as a display dominance thing,
but they also use them
to catch water droplets to help them drink,
-because they can't actually see still water.
It's just moving water they drink because that's all they can see.
Extraordinary. So is this why you've got your water sprayer here?
Yeah, every morning we come in and give them both a spray down.
So you literally just squirt like that?
Yeah, and the water droplets all run down into the corner of his mouth.
And they just sit there and open and shut their mouth
and just catch the water as it comes down.
These veiled chameleons, where would you find them in the wild?
They come from Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
Right, so quite dry areas!
Don't fall off!
-Is it true their tongues are almost as long as their bodies?
They've got a big, sticky blob on the end,
and they flick it out and pick up the prey on the end of it.
So, they'll literally... Hello. Do you want to come back to me?
So, they'll literally stick the insect
to the end of their tongue and pull it back in again?
Yeah, it's really fascinating to watch because both their eyes - they move independently - swing forward
so they can get the depth, and they just poke their tongue out slightly,
so they look quite funny when they do that. Then they just grab it.
They are the most fantastic creatures.
Sarah, thank you very much. I'm becoming attached to this one!
Are you going to stay with me for the day?
At the keepers' lodge,
head of section, Tim Yeo, is preparing for a difficult task.
It's not something he's looking forward to.
This morning, on his rounds out in the enclosure,
he spotted something worrying.
Somehow, the Pere David's stag
had managed to get a piece of fencing wire tangled in his antlers.
Pere David's deer are listed as critically endangered in the wild.
With just a few thousand left in the world,
the park's five females and one male are incredibly precious animals.
Tim must act quickly or the stag could get badly hurt.
The only way that we can remove the wire is to sedate him.
And so... Which actually can be quite a difficult sort of job,
because they're difficult to get close to.
But no other way of removing it. It's got to come off.
If it stays, he's liable to get more and more tangled up in it
and it's an enormous hazard to him.
Darting is a tricky procedure.
But Tim is highly trained and holds a licence to use this equipment.
He's also very experienced.
There are risks to it to the animal obviously, but...
in this instance there's no other way, we have to do this.
It's crucial to get the amount of sedative right.
Too small a dose and the stag won't go to sleep.
But too large a dose could kill him.
To get close to the stag, Tim's come up with a cunning plan.
He's going to go with the film crew in their vehicle.
I'm hoping that perhaps we can...
go in disguise somewhat.
This vehicle's very good because they get suspicious of certain vehicles.
And certainly mine they see a lot and they're very suspicious of it.
They shouldn't be with this one.
The Pere David's are shy creatures and very quick on their feet
so they're extremely difficult to dart.
Can we stop there, Will, please?
Tim wants to get as close as possible
to make sure his first shot is accurate.
You get one really good chance at this and that's the first chance,
because if it goes wrong the first time,
the stag that we're trying to sedate is wary
and presents a far more difficult target the second time and beyond.
The Pere David's are not cooperating.
(He doesn't really present a shot at the minute.)
Tim's still at quite a long range from the stag
but suddenly he sees a chance.
No, that missed.
Unfortunately, the dart went wide.
Tim has to pick it up and start again.
Having missed once,
it's going to be even harder now.
Keep going, Will, as steady as you are.
The Pere David's are nervous and even more wary than before.
But eventually Tim sees another opportunity.
Oh, I hit him, did I?
I don't know if I hit him.
Do you think you got him?
I don't know if I hit him. I swung through and...
I'm not sure.
The shot was good but somehow the stag is still standing up.
The last dart hit him
but he didn't receive the whole drug so...
it's not been nearly enough to sedate him,
to get him into a state that we can deal with him.
So I feel now...
we need to back off, leave it well alone for tonight.
I think we need to start afresh tomorrow.
We'll be back to see if Tim can sedate the stag
before it gets badly injured by the wire.
All across Britain, there's a network of conservation volunteers
who've taken on the task of monitoring and assessing the state of the natural environment.
These are the County Recorders, and each is a specialist, responsible
for just one kind of plant or creature on their own home patch.
I'm out in Longleat's East Woodland with county beetle recorder
Michael Derby, and hopefully, here, some beetles. What have we got here?
What we've got here is a longhorn beetle.
This is a beetle that lives in its larval stages in wood, and they're
called longhorn beetles because they've got long antennae like that.
-Can I put this down now?
-Where else might we look?
This is a good fallen tree, which we ought to find something interesting.
As an example, how many types of beetles are there in the UK?
-There are 4,200 different species of beetle in the UK.
Not that we find all those in Wiltshire, of course.
This is the so-called wire worm.
They're a great pest to gardeners, but this particular species, they're click beetles, some live in wood,
some live in the roots of garden plants and so on.
This is one of the woodland species.
It so happens, I did actually find some adults of that earlier in the day, which I've...
got in a tube here to show you.
Your pockets are crammed full of beetle paraphernalia.
Is it true that beetles have their skeleton
on the outside of their body, the reverse to what we have?
Yes, and that's a great advantage for them because it means they can
have an entirely different system of muscles to us, and so
they're much stronger in proportion to their size. Ants can lift the equivalent of pianos, say.
-And they can fall from great heights.
-Yes, and not be damaged.
There are problems. It means you can't grow, so you can only
-take in as much food as you need to perform essential bodily functions.
-You're only as big as your skeleton.
And you can't feel, so you've got to have a system of hairs in order to enable you to feel.
These are the ones I found earlier.
This is what that will turn into.
Longleat has 4,000 acres, literally a million trees.
What have your studies here so far indicated about the quality of the wood here?
We've found enough to score Longleat at around about 330, I think,.
which would put it in the top ten of woods in the west of England, which is pretty good.
I'm quite sure that given more time we'll add to that quite considerably.
-We've really only skimmed the surface here.
-Michael, thank you very much.
I had no idea that beetles could be so interesting.
It's lunchtime in lion country, and today the two cubs, Jasira
and Malaika, will be hunting the feed truck for the very first time.
They've been using this method of feeding here for many years.
Meat is dropped from a chute at the back of the trailer, while it's on the move.
This means the lions must run and chase for their food, just as they would in the wild.
For the cubs it's going to be a challenge, as keeper Bob Trollope knows.
This is the big tester. We're actually feeding them for the first time outside in the park.
As you can see, Kabir's up for it, but the cubs aren't too sure what they've got to do at the moment.
Hopefully they will follow Mum.
Oh, here they come.
This is a whole new vehicle. They've never seen this one before.
So it's... It must be a bit daunting for them.
This is a big machine.
This will also be the first time the cubs have had to compete with the adults for food.
The keeper in charge of the lions, Brian Kent, is a little worried about Dad.
Kabir, he's just mad on his meat.
He wants to be fed and he'll have the lot. He'll collect it.
That's what he does. He'll collect it and have it in piles for himself.
Sometimes you've got to be here to push him off a bit, so the females do manage to get some.
If the cubs go for his food,
Kabir might well give them a cuff round the ears.
Trouble is, his paw is like a sledgehammer with a pitchfork at the end.
He's a big male lion. He's 100 times their size,
so a little smack from him could do a lot of damage.
This could be a dangerous part of their growing-up process.
He's so much of a glutton that he wants every single bit that you chuck out, which, you know, he's
basically getting the lion's share of things, but he's also got to allow the others to feed.
You'll more likely find, Mum will grab a piece and the cubs will run off after them.
Which is fine, because Mum will let them
eat their meat. I'm not so sure that Kabir would.
Just as in the wild, this stage is not just about the food.
It's also about the cubs learning to fend for themselves.
Mum is in the process of weaning the cubs,
so she knows there is more than enough meat here for all of them.
She's trying to make Cubby go out and get their own.
So by giving them a bit of a clout...
It's not gonna hurt them - it's more upsetting to them because Mummy won't let them have any meat.
In the wild, on a kill, the cubs would be the last ones to feed.
They would have to find their own spot to get in there.
A lot of cubs do get hurt when it's feeding time.
But it doesn't take them long to get the idea.
And there's no question about their appetite.
At the moment I'm very happy with it.
It's gone to plan.
Initially we had thoughts about Kabir being
a little bit aggressive towards the cubs when the food is around.
So far Malaika and Jasira have risen to each new challenge of growing up.
But they've still got a long way to go,
and we'll be there to follow their progress throughout the series.
Longleat is a house packed with treasures,
but looking after such a collection is a grave responsibility.
Funds must always be in place to conserve and keep safe the art and antiques for future generations.
And to do that, sacrifices sometimes have to be made.
So, in 2002, a number of items from Longleat were sold at auction.
Amongst them was a 1460 Virgil manuscript, many paintings by
the Dutch Masters, and four life-size Meissen porcelain animals.
The sale secured the future of the estate
by raising a wopping £27 million.
The Marquess of Bath was delighted with the outcome,
though he couldn't help but notice all the gaps in the decor.
There was a big table back there which I forgot to point out, but that's gone.
These empty walls here weren't empty just last week.
There was a large number of Dutch masters on the walls,
and there were Meissen porcelain animal figures.
They were in various rooms.
And all that was covered, again, with the Dutch Masters.
Things were taken from around here. There was something in that corner.
I can't actually remember what it was.
Now we've closed it up, I keep forgetting what has gone, but there was something there.
Lord Bath may not have missed some of the items,
but he lost one piece that had real sentimental and historical value.
In this room there's one very big, heavy hole here.
That used to house a very large desk where most of my writing throughout my life has been done.
The 19th-century French desk in sycamore sold for a small fortune.
To fill the gap, Lord Bath commissioned a new desk.
It was designed to hold the family photograph albums,
as well as to provide a workstation fit for a Marquess.
So it was a big day when it arrived.
-Let's have a look, see what you think.
-I do think it is indeed a very fine desk.
-Just what it should be for displaying all my albums!
I'm glad you like the look of it.
-Very much. And the general feeling of finesse about it.
Well, I'm very pleased with it.
But it wasn't just Lord Bath who lost a desk at the auction.
Lady Bath did, too.
So now she's asked the craftsmen who created her husband's desk to come up with a design for her.
Rupert Senior and Charles Carmichael found inspiration in the painting by Botticelli of the Birth of Venus.
The idea was...
Because the piece is built and designed for the Marchioness, we wanted to
design a piece that was very feminine and elegant and romantic.
As part of the inspiration,
you will see that
we've used a shell motif that appears in various parts of the
desk, including this main shell, which covers the writing surface.
You can see here, this is Botticelli, the Birth of Venus.
And so Project Venus was launched.
Freehand sketches and drawings gradually turned into scale diagrams and plans.
When the design was finished it had to be approved before anything could go ahead.
Lady Bath has brought the plans to show her husband.
So these are the drawings, THE drawing actually.
That's what it's going to look like. What d'you think?
It has a very charming design.
Very much more feminine than, let's say, this desk, and I think appropriate for you.
I did ask them for something romantic like the darling desk that I loved.
-It's deliciously romantic.
-I think it's very nice.
-It looks like shells, cockleshells.
-That's the idea.
It is called the Venus desk because it's got a shell,
like Venus coming out of the seashell.
-Well, you have to put yourself there and then it will look like that!
Anyhow, it's nice, isn't it?
-I do think it's nice.
So I might take to it, because I miss so much my old desk, the one that's gone.
But can the new one live up to expectations?
Later on we'll see what happens as the Venus desk takes shape.
This isn't something you do every day, take a scrubbing brush to a rhino.
I'm out in the rhino yard with keeper Kevin Nibbs.
Kevin, this seems a very strange thing to do. Surely rhinos can look after themselves?
They can, yeah. Normally they'll go up in the paddocks
and roll in the mud and just cover themselves and as it dries it will pull the skin off itself.
So basically what we're doing is getting rid of dead skin?
Yeah, and all this underneath is new skin.
We've had a few skin problems this year with them, so it does look a little bit crusty but as soon as
we get rid of this and the sun comes out, it's going to do his skin good.
So brushing it is like us exfoliating basically, getting rid of the old, dead stuff and
letting the new stuff come out and get into the light and the warmth.
Exactly, it's really good for him. He enjoys it as well.
They've got very sensitive skin, thick but sensitive.
Amazing, because you wouldn't think he'd notice that we were here.
No, no, you wouldn't but it is very sensitive.
They can feel any insects crawling on their skin
which is why they put the mud on themselves, to stop that as well.
-To keep insects off.
-And does it work?
They've got very thick skin but do they need protection from the sun?
Not so much in our climate but certainly in Africa,
where it's direct sunlight all the time, definitely.
-So the wallowing would give them a protective layer?
That's incredible, well he does really seem to be enjoying it, he's standing here looking very relaxed.
We shall carry on beautifying Winston,
but in the meantime here's what else is coming up today.
We'll find whether or not the tangled stag can be saved.
Lady Bath likes the plan, but when the Venus desk is delivered,
what will she think of the real thing?
And I'll be giving tigers Sona and Kadu their tea!
This morning, head of section, Tim Yeo, is up bright and early
preparing himself for an important mission.
Today, he has a second chance to dart the rare Pere David's stag
who's managed to get fencing wire tangled in his antlers.
Yesterday, Tim scored a hit on the stag
but sadly the dart malfunctioned.
It failed to deliver the sedative drug
and is still stuck in the stag's thick hide.
It's vital that the wire is removed as soon as possible
before the stag gets more tangled up and hurts himself.
So, today, the pressure is on to get it right.
To get close to the stag without being recognised,
Tim's going with our film crew in their car.
He wants to be within 30 metres of his target
when he takes the first shot.
If he misses, as he did yesterday,
the stag will become more skittish than usual
and almost impossible to hit.
But the other animals are not cooperating.
WHISPERING: Rhino around. Oh, no.
Give me a break.
Good boy. Good boy.
Good boy. Good boy.
Go on, then.
It's a waiting game,
as Tim stalks the stag around his favourite wallow.
He's telling her, "Get out."
It's not the ideal place to bring him down.
Trouble is, what about shooting him down like that?
I'm not happy about it.
If sedated here, the stag might drown.
Tim has got to be patient.
But eventually he sees his chance.
As it's designed to do, the dart falls out once the drug goes in.
It's gone well into muscle, right into the rump, so...
fingers crossed now. We wait and see what happens.
It takes a few minutes for the drug to work.
But soon the entangled stag begins to drift off to sleep.
I'm just giving it time for the drug to fully take effect.
I know he's been down a little while
but if we move him too quickly, he could get up.
He's not likely to do that, but we've had it in the past.
If you move him too quickly, they're up and they're away.
The less stimulation we give him now, the better.
As soon as they're confident that the deer is out cold,
the team can approach him.
Deputy head warden Ian Turner is on hand to help.
It'll just come off, Ian, will it?
Yeah, it is more or less, isn't it?
They want to do this quickly
so the stag is sedated for as little time as possible.
But they have to be gentle.
Oh, I see it, yeah.
Just mind yourself cos I'm bringing his leg out.
Shall we cut some of that?
Here you go, Ed.
A side effect of the drug
is that the stag loses the ability to regulate his body temperature,
so Tim must make sure he doesn't overheat.
Then it's time to administer the antidote to rouse him.
I think we could move off when we're ready.
Well done, guys.
We'll just pull away now and leave him.
Now Tim can only wait and hope that the stag will recover.
Within minutes, the stag wakes up.
He's a little groggy for a moment
but then he trots off to rejoin the herd
as if nothing had happened.
The operation has been a success.
I'm so happy that we've managed to catch him
and remove this wire, which is a hazard.
It had begun to wrap around one of his hind legs.
So it's a relief that... we've removed it
before it's been able to do any damage to him.
He's back with the hinds now and...you know, life goes on.
The Marquess and Marchioness of Bath have commissioned a new piece of furniture, a desk for Lady Bath.
They've now seen the design drawings and are quite impressed.
It is most elegant.
It is inspired really by a shell,
by Botticelli's Venus shell coming floating in
and she'll be sitting there, arising from her shell.
It's a huge amount of work but at the same time...
And costly, may I say.
But again, we are trying to compensate for the one we both lost.
He, my husband, for his and me for mine
and I think that it's very beautiful and made in the 21st century.
It will be the 21st century's legacy to Longleat, hopefully.
Rupert Senior and Charles Carmichael are the craftsmen
who are going to create this antique of the future.
The wood they chose is yew
and it all comes from a single 300-year-old tree
that was blown down in the great storm of 1987.
It's been air drying for almost 20 years
so it's top quality timber.
The trouble is, yew is not an easy wood to work with.
Yew wood is inherently very difficult to...
find the right piece. It's a very wasteful timber to work with.
This particular plank
is probably as good as it gets.
Now in this instance that's all looking quite good.
That's all looking quite good and, lo and behold, we turn it over
and we discover that there's
a knot with a big crack down the side of it. That is an inherent weakness.
If we want quite a strong leg
and this is going to come right in the middle of the leg
at this point and the grain is coming off here and here, and this is really
a very weak point and so we will have to disregard that piece.
So, a classic design, executed in a beautiful wood, by master craftsmen.
But furniture this special needs something extra, something unique.
Inspired by the Botticelli painting, the seashell canopy is that original feature.
You can see now that we've achieved...
an almost weightless...
movement on the canopy.
We've never seen a similar desk that operates in this way
and we believe that our design is unique.
Great attention has been paid to every detail.
The monogram has an 'A' for Anna,
and 'B' for Bath. The coronet is the symbol for a marchioness.
It's taken two years to create, and now the Venus desk is finished.
But will it live up to Lady Bath's romantic ideal?
I'm sure she'll love it, but it will be nevertheless very nice
to have that confirmed when she sees it!
We'll find out how the desk is received later on, when it finally arrives at Longleat.
For 17 years there were three tigers living together at Longleat.
But sadly last year Shandi, the white tiger, died of cancer.
That leaves Sona and Kadu,
both elderly and troubled by ill health.
I've come up to the tiger enclosure to meet head of section Brian Kent here. Hi, Brian.
And Kadu, one of the tigers.
How is Kadu doing, how is she?
Kadu's doing very well considering she's an old lady of the park.
-How old is old?
-She's 21 this year.
-So she's doing well.
-How old would a tiger live in the wild?
Not as long as her, sort of 10 or 15 years.
-Considering she's got arthritis as well.
Presumably with a tiger of this age you have to do lots of checks to keep an eye on things basically?
We do check her every day and also the vet comes in once a week.
We do have a check for her claws because we've had problems
with her claws drawn into her pads so we need to check them on a regular basis.
Hopefully the meat will to encourage her up.
Kadu, come here, come on. Come on.
-Good girl. Then we try to have a quick look.
-There we go.
You can have a quick look.
-Just to see if they're all...
-Yeah, so you can see the claws.
Can I give her a piece as well? She's very gentle, isn't she?
Oh yes, very soft.
She's enjoying this. One more piece there.
There you go, you're enjoying that. Brian, thank you very much.
I'll leave you here and if you follow me down this way, this is the other tiger, Sona.
Now Bob, you're deputy here in the tiger enclosure.
What's all this about?
What we have got here is some mince
because Sona has got a pancreas problem.
OK, presumably is this another thing of old age basically?
Yes, he's had it for several years now.
-He's got kidney problems, he's arthritic as well.
-How old is he?
He's 20, slightly younger than Kadu, but an old gentleman.
With this we can put medication in for his pancreas problem
and then he's got all evening, all day to eat it.
-He can come as and when he wants to.
-Are we ready to put that in now in fact?
-Yeah, what we have to do, if you just chuck it in.
-Just pour it in.
Presumably you have a big mincing machine?
We do have an electronic mincer which is great for us, saves us a lot of time.
Yeah. That looks like a huge amount, can I just say.
How many kilos in there?
There's about seven or eight kilos in there so it's a fair bit.
It's more concentrated and also you can put hearts in there, kidneys,
normal meat and it's all to build him up because...
He's looking a little bit thin.
-And as I say, we can build him up and also he can have all day to eat.
-So how do we get it in?
One thing, you've got to be careful because he's quite keen to get it.
If I lift the slide up, you can push it around.
Be careful with the paws because he can get claws out if he wants to.
-He can come out, can he? So just a quick...
-Yeah, put it through there.
Here you are, mate. That's it.
He's still kind of grumbling...
He's basically just seeing us off his food. That's his pride.
Well, Bob, thank you very much.
And of course we'll keep you posted on Sona's progress.
Two years in the making and now the day has finally arrived
when the Venus desk is to be unveiled at Longleat.
Rupert Senior and Charles Carmichael have brought it from their workshop, and have just a few minutes
to do the finishing touches before Lady Bath comes to see it for the first time.
It's always an anxious moment moving anything,
but touchwood it's had a good trip.
We've brought two sets of lampshades and we've brought all sorts of bits and pieces, extra keys, you name it
and you know you've always got to second-guess any eventualities.
-So where is it?
Come and see your new desk.
It's lovely. It's as I imagined it.
-So here on the outside we have your monogram at the top.
It's really lovely, it's quite a piece of art, isn't it, really?
We've built it to be...
And it's romantic.
The ancient yew wood has been given 60 coats of French polish
to make sure it's exactly the right golden colour.
There are ten drawers, including two secret ones, each with a polished brass handle.
It's like a piece of jewellery, isn't it?
It's made for centuries to come, isn't it, really?
That why, if you invest in a good piece
of furniture and you have in mind it's going to go down generations,
And Lady Bath is happy to think that her new Venus desk is indeed worthy of Botticelli.
I'm sure he'd be enamoured with it.
He'd be very flattered that I wanted a Botticelli desk, number one.
I would be if I were an artist.
And I think he would approve, he would highly approve.
Down in Pets Corner there's a colony of degus.
They're a kind of rodent that's related to the guinea pig and to the chinchilla.
Like both of those species, the degu comes from the Andes in South America.
In the wild they live in large colonies, so
they're a very sociable creature and need to be kept in a large group.
Here at Longleat they've got 20, and the colony is still growing.
Kate and I are down in Pets Corner at the degu enclosure with keeper Bev Allen.
Now Bev, why is this particular degu in a cage?
This is one of our new degus that we're trying to mix in with our male degus here at Pets Corner.
So it takes a while to sort of mix them in because they're quite territorial.
Oh really, so they would fight if you just let him go in straight with the others?
Yes, so we have to basically get them used to the
different smells and do it very slowly. It takes a long time to do.
So they obviously are quite complex creatures,
-you wouldn't necessarily recommend them as a pet?
A couple of years ago they were quite popular as a pet, but they do have to have
quite a strict diet because they can get diabetes and things like that, and basically the diet
is like the pellets and also hay and also we give them a bit of carrot now and then
-because it is good for their teeth because they should have orange teeth, not white teeth.
-Yeah, white teeth means they're ill.
Well, hopefully Bev, this little one will be reintroduced with the rest
of the group successfully and we'll look forward to that, won't you? Thanks very much, Bev.
Sadly that's all we've got time for on today's programme,
but here's what's coming up on the next Animal Park.
The lion cubs have been playing too rough, and now both of them have injured a leg.
Up in the great hall, Ben will be getting into some heavy metal.
And don't be fooled by their comical appearance...
hippos are deadly.
We'll have all that and more next time on Animal Park.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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