Episode 17 Animal Park


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Episode 17

Ben Fogle and Kate Humble explore life behind the scenes at Longleat Safari Park. The new white-backed African vultures are settling in and the keepers have arranged a feast.


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Hello and welcome to Animal Park. I'm Kate Humble.

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And I'm Ben Fogle and we're up in the giraffery where there've been three new additions this year.

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There have indeed and one of then is Century.

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He's standing behind us just there.

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He was the hundredth giraffe to be born at Longleat.

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His mum is Jolly - who's loving these bananas.

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She is the ripe old age of 22 and Century was her tenth calf.

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We've got lots of other stories about the animals here at Longleat coming up on today's programme.

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The time has come for Seanna the sea lion pup to leave Mum

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and start her further education.

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I'll be getting friendly with one of the biggest creepy crawlies I've ever seen.

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I'm supposed to hold this? Indeed.

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And when we try to help Alema with her spring make-over...

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..I'll discover why Bactrian camels are famous for their bad manners.

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But first, the seven Californian sea lions who live in Half-Mile Lake

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are some of Longleat's most reliable parents.

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There's usually a new pup or two every spring.

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But where they choose to give birth has caused problems.

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They've had them on board one of the tour boats

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and turned the landing stage of Gorilla Island into a nursery.

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So two years ago work began to build the sea lions their very own beach.

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When it was finished they took to it straight away.

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And amongst the first to have a baby there was 12-year-old Celia.

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Her pup was named Seanna.

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Now Seanna is almost a year old and although she's not yet fully weaned, her carefree youth is about to come

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to an abrupt end, because Celia will soon have a new pup to look after.

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Keeper Michelle Stevens will be helping

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with this difficult transition.

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A pup likes to suckle for anything up to about a year

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and then we'll have to take her away from the mum and wean her

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totally away from Celia

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so that she cannot suckle or see her mum.

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We do have live fish in the lake

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so the pup would have experimented already,

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catching her own, playing around with it.

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So, it is kind of instinctive to catch fish.

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She's just not eating dead fish at the moment.

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That is something we have to get her on to.

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So as well as the separation from her mother,

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Seanna will have to learn to cope with a new diet.

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In the wild, weaning can be more difficult,

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because there it's up to the mothers

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to drive their youngsters away. Once last year's pup's old enough,

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she will chase it off and she'll give birth.

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She will then need time to bond with her new pup

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so it's important Seanna is not lingering around then.

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The pup will be taken out of the lake

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and put into the sea-lion holding pen and probably be left in there

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for a couple of months, and we'll do some training with her

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and get her used to us, used to eating dead fish.

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It may seem harsh to split up mother and youngster,

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but it is a natural process.

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In the wild, they've got lots of room to get away from mum

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and mum will push the baby away.

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Here, even though the lake is really large, it's half a mile long,

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it's still enclosed so the pup will always go back to the mother.

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So, it's really important that we take her completely away from mum

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so she can't see her, can't smell her and can't communicate with her.

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We'll be back to see what happens to Seanna when she's separated

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from her mother for the first time in her young life.

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Despite being the most fearsome predators in the park,

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the lions of Longleat are surprisingly playful.

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For cubs Malaika and Jasira,

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it's a way of learning the crucial skills of hunting and fighting.

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For the adults, it's practice.

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The scratching post is a favourite of Charlie's pride.

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And last week Kate helped put up some brand-new rope toys

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for Kabir's cubs to play with.

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That's quite tough.

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Both Malaika and Jasira loved their new playground,

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as did their father.

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But male lions are incredibly powerful animals,

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and over the last few days Kabir and Mfui

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have given the playground a bit of a beating.

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This is the remnants of some of the playthings that Kate helped keeper

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Bob Trollope make for the lions here in the enclosure.

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Bob, they've trashed the place, haven't they?

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Yeah, unfortunately, it is no more. It lasted less than a week.

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Less than a week. But it shows that they really enjoyed it.

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They did.

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The cubs were playing on it all the time.

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So that is obviously Jasira and Malaika.

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But they surely couldn't have done all this damage themselves?

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No, Dad helped. Right. That's Kabir.

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But the one who did most of the damage was Mfui.

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She is from the other pride who's here.

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Most probably because the scent of Kabir and the cubs and Luna.

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He's just trashed it, tried to kill that.

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The plan today is to try and make this male lion proof

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or parent proof, I suppose.

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What have we got? A couple of pretty solid wooden blocks.

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This is a silver birch and we will dangle some of these

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so they can still bite and claw them.

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We've got some that we're halfway through doing.

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Shall we look at what we made earlier?

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Presumably, this is all part of the enrichment here,

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to keep them busy and entertained. It is.

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So what have we got here? This is a very heavy ball.

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This is like a trawler float or net float.

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Presumably, the idea of this is that it is supposed to be indestructible.

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These are the only things that we have found that resemble

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a ball of any sort that they cannot break.

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They they can scratch it but not break it. Not pop it, obviously.

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No. And we are still working on this so we'll take the tape off

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so it is completely lion friendly as well.

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What else have we got here?

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We've got one dangling and hopefully they'll swing on this.

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When we had one of the fenders up here

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we saw Jasira climb up there and jump onto it, so it is to amuse them.

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Obviously Jasira and Malaika love all of this,

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but mum and Kabir will also come up.

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They all play with it. Obviously the two youngsters play with it most,

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but they all play with it. That's what we wanted.

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The big question is, do you think this will survive the dad test,

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the parent test?

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I'm pretty sure the ball and the wood will, but whether the rope does...

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There's only one way to find out.

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Join us later in the programme

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when we find out whether this is, indeed, lion parent proof.

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Recently Longleat gained some fearsome-looking new residents -

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ten African white-backed vultures.

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They waited patiently while a vast new enclosure was built for them.

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It was quite an undertaking, but after weeks of work,

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the Vulture Venue was ready for a grand opening

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by none other than Lord Bath.

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It is time to declare the Venue... open!

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Phew! That's a relief. I thought it wasn't going to open.

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The vultures wasted no time in stretching their wings

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and settling into their new home, to head of section Mark Tye's delight.

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The vultures have been getting on really well,

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getting confident with their enclosure, flying around,

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moving from perch to perch, tree to tree.

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There's not been too many disasters as regards crashing into the fence.

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There have been a few but they literally bounce off it

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and off they go again.

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As the birds have settled in well,

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Mark feels it is time to try a more natural way of feeding them.

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We have been feeding them in the house most of the time

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to get them used to going back in there,

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but it would be nice to put the food out into the middle

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of the enclosure and get a good look at them feeding outside.

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Vultures are not hunters but scavengers.

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They'll only eat animals that are already dead.

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While they were settling in, Mark's been feeding them chunks of meat,

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but now to encourage their natural behaviour,

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Mark will feed them a whole carcass.

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This is just a deer carcass. It was actually a road kill.

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A car ran it over on the estate so it's ideal for these guys.

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They should polish this off quite quickly.

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Vultures live in groups called venues,

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and feed together in the wild.

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To give Mark a closer look at the birds' behaviour as they eat,

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he's set up one of our cameras inside the enclosure.

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We'll just stake it to the ground purely for the camera's benefit.

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Otherwise they'll just drag it off

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and we won't get to see anything.

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Hopefully, with that there, it shouldn't go anywhere.

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So, that's it! I can see they're getting a bit excited over there.

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I'll let them get on with it.

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With wingspans of up to ten feet, vultures are highly agile.

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But on the ground they are cumbersome and vulnerable,

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so they are naturally cautious.

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We found, when we fed them in the house,

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that if we put down just a bare piece of meat,

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they're straight on it straightaway.

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If it's a body with hair on it, and what have you,

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they are obviously a bit reluctant.

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They want to make sure that they can see it's an animal carcass - they want to make sure it's dead first.

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So what we see is the birds swooping in, and someone's got to be the brave one

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and give it a kick to make sure it's not going to get up and run away.

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But now the feeding frenzy has begun.

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We'll be back later to see just how efficiently these refuse collectors of the wild can clean up the mess.

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I'm down in Pets Corner with head of section Darren Beasley,

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an enormous crowd of people and an African millipede.

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Darren, this is an extraordinary insect. It is an insect, is it?

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It's actually slightly different to your normal insect family.

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This is actually a millipede - you can see by the legs -

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but people get confused between millipedes and centipedes. OK.

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The millipedes have two pairs of legs on every single segment.

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And the centipedes, they're the meat-eating ones with only one pair.

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So it's not true that a millipede has 1,000 legs and a centipede has 100 legs.

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No, we believe an adult centipede maybe has 200 at the maximum.

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This can have anywhere up to 200 or 300.

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So millipedes are the plant eaters.

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They live on the forest floor. They eat all the old leaves and things.

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OK. This is your first ever recycler here.

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These are the things that create the good soil for the plants to grow. I'm assuming that is the head.

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There's not much difference!

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Sorry, Mr Millipede! Presumably those are the little antennae?

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Yes. They have fairly poor eyesight.

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They rely on chemical sensors.

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They come out when it's dark or first thing in the morning, and they feel their way along the forest floor.

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Are you holding that?

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No, he's actually got me there, Ben.

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So the legs... Have they got little claws?

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Tiny little spikes on the ends of the leg. It feels a bit like Velcro.

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You know, you put on your clothes.

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He has to feel secure. I wouldn't wave him around or he would drop.

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Darren, I know that you bring some of the animals that you have in Pets Corner out to show everyone,

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but you're actually going to sex this today, is that right?

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We have several of these and it's nice... We get asked questions.

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What is its name and where does it come from?

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But it always handy to know whether you're dealing with a boy or girl. Millipedes are not that difficult.

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You have to look very closely.

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See all those legs at the front. Yes.

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If you count seven segments back. Right.

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Easier said than done, with all those legs moving.

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They have two pairs of legs on every segment.

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Except, in adults, roughly seven segments back, there is a gap because they sort of lost those legs.

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That helps them when they meet the girl millipedes. So, I'm looking very closely here.

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One, two, three, four, five, six, seven...

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It looks like there's a bit of a gap to me.

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To me, that would say this is going to be a little boy.

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Or a big boy, should I say!

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Do you name a millipede?

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We normally let the visitors. Are you gonna name him?

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What would you call him? It's a boy.

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Um, I dunno. What do you want to call him?

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John. John! John the millipede. That's all right.

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There we go! It's settled. Have you ever seen a millipede before?

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Um, yeah. Have you? I bet not that size. That is pretty big. You're not scared, though?

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No. You're braver than me.

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At which point, I'm supposed to hold this, aren't I? Indeed. I beat you to it!

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Normally, what we do... just rest your hand there.

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Because he can't see, he'll tap you with his antennae

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and then, hopefully, he'll go for a walk

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and once he feels nice and safe and secure... Here he goes...

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And what sort of environment does a millipede like this need?

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Fairly warm. These tropical ones, the African ones, they need warmth.

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We keep them in heated tanks and bring them out on sunny days like today.

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But really, in the wild, millipedes we live on the forest floor,

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particularly in the leaf litter,

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and they will eat just about anything they come across,

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so any of the vegetation, and all the soil - all the nice stuff, comes out that end.

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He's surprisingly fast and very heavy.

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He likes you, Ben. OK, Darren, you can have him back now.

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I'm on a tea break now, mate. Sorry.

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OK. That's it from me and John millipede.

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Back at Half-Mile Lake, Celia the sea lion is expecting a baby.

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So that she can feed and cope with the new pup, her old pup, Seanna,

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has now been moved into the sea lion holding pen.

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It's only a temporary measure.

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In a couple of months, she should be ready to rejoin the others back in the lake.

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As well as looking after the vultures, Mark Tye is also the keeper in charge of the sea lions.

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He's been getting Seanna used to eating fish.

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Some can be fussy. Some don't like heads, for example.

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When we wean them, we have to cut the heads off when they won't eat them.

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Some don't like tails. And we have to chop that off.

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But it's all...

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Initially, you are pampering to their whim, to get them to eat.

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Then, once they're eating and they realise that you're the supply food every morning,

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then you can introduce your heads, your tails and everything, and they soon pick that up.

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Good girl!

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Seanna has adjusted to an all-fish diet very quickly,

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but there's something else that Mark needs to get her used to at this stage.

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If she was ever to get sick or have a medical emergency, it's something that could save her life.

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The problem is that the sea lions here have got the whole lake to swim in,

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so if one wanted to hide, it would be almost impossible to find it.

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And with their speed and agility, there's just no way that any of them could ever be caught.

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So, the question is, how to do routine health checks?

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The answer is very simple -

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train them to co-operate.

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Now, what we want to introduce is a bit of control, if you like,

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and the first thing is to get them

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to stay in one particular spot, which is why we've got the small wooden disc on the floor.

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It is getting her to stay on that particular spot for as long as you can get her to stay there.

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The way we do that is, initially, they'll stand on it out of curiosity.

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I have a whistle, and as soon as they touch it for the first time,

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you blow the whistle and instantly give them a piece of fish.

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They soon pick up the fact that when they do something correct,

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the whistle gets blown, they get fish.

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They are a smart creature and they are also pretty greedy at times,

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so they pick up the fact that the noise means food.

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OK! Good girl! Well done.

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'Seanna's doing great. I'm really chuffed with her.

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'For two weeks, to get her to stand on that wooden disc in there

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'and I've now introduced moving her into a pen,

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'get her to stand on one in there and bring her back out,

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'put her on the original one, and leave the pen without her chasing me out,

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'I'm pretty chuffed with that.'

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Whether that is something that has come down in her genes,

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because her father, Buster, is also a very well trained sea lion,

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although he chooses now not to bother cos he's got a big lake to swim in.

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But he's very clever and clued up,

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and you'll probably find that has come down in the genes into her.

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In fact, she's almost too keen to learn.

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We're done, sweetheart.

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Seanna. Seanna. We're finished.

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Seanna's doing so well, Mark is hoping to move on to what they call target training.

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We'll be back to see how that goes later on.

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I'm up at the new area with head of section Tim Yeo and keeper Kevin Nibbs.

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Two of the Bactrian camels. Who have we here, Tim?

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Kate, we have Alema here in the foreground, the white one,

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and her mother, Mrs Bruce, in the background.

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Now, they're not looking at their best at this time of year, are they? They are looking a bit ragged.

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I think it's fair to say that, isn't it?

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They really do look scruffy, don't they?

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But this is an entirely natural process. Exactly.

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It is an annual event, when their winter coat starts to come away.

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It's just beginning now.

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Where you can see it sort of hanging from...

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Can we have an look at Alema here? Kevin is doing a wonderful job of distracting them!

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But it comes off in great kind of mats, doesn't it?

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It does. Can you just pull it out?

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It's absolutely extraordinary. It so thick and woolly.

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You would think that this could be used for something, actually.

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I think most certainly.

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I think, just like we use our sheep's wool in this country and around the world,

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I think that, in Mongolia, where these animals come from,

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the local tribes that live in that area would use this very much.

0:20:450:20:51

It would make amazing blankets and things, wouldn't it? Yes, yes.

0:20:510:20:56

It is fantastically dense wool. Exactly.

0:20:560:21:00

CAMEL SNORTS

0:21:000:21:02

Oh, dear! She's just done a big snort at our poor cameraman.

0:21:020:21:06

Alema, that wasn't very polite at all! Right.

0:21:060:21:10

Is that because you're hurting her?

0:21:100:21:12

Why do we need to remove this for her?

0:21:120:21:15

Well, I must admit, we're...

0:21:150:21:18

CAMEL SNORTS

0:21:180:21:20

I think she resents the camera up so close while she's eating.

0:21:200:21:24

She's saying, "I'm not looking my best. Don't do big close-ups, OK?

0:21:240:21:28

"Just back off! Back off!"

0:21:280:21:30

Right! Does this hurt, this removing it from her?

0:21:300:21:35

To be honest, it would be...

0:21:350:21:36

Thank you very much, love.

0:21:360:21:38

..if would if... if, um, you kept sort of tugging.

0:21:380:21:44

You have to know when to stop, really.

0:21:440:21:46

I think we probably need to perhaps do that.

0:21:460:21:49

KATE LAUGHS

0:21:490:21:51

But it... Whoops!

0:21:510:21:52

It can get worse than that, believe me!

0:21:550:21:59

She's not impressed with us at all, is she?

0:21:590:22:02

But why do you need to help her out with removing this hair?

0:22:020:22:06

Surely it just falls off naturally, doesn't it?

0:22:060:22:09

It does, Kate. It will come out on its own perfectly well.

0:22:090:22:12

When it's ready to come, we do help it along and collect it.

0:22:120:22:16

We like to leave some of it, a small amount of it,

0:22:160:22:19

for birds to use for lining their nests, which they do very much.

0:22:190:22:24

It'd make wonderful nesting material.

0:22:240:22:27

Well, Alema, we look forward to you looking sleek and beautiful

0:22:270:22:30

and perhaps improving on your manners a bit.

0:22:300:22:33

Tim, Kevin, thank you very much indeed.

0:22:330:22:35

I'm here in Pets Corner with keeper Sarah Clayson and some of its most popular residents, the ferrets.

0:22:430:22:49

Sarah, can I pick this one up? Yes, that's Bobkin.

0:22:490:22:52

I'm amazed that you can tell them all apart. Hello, Bobkin.

0:22:520:22:55

They've got these extraordinary, long, bendy, agile bodies, don't they? Is there a reason for that?

0:22:550:23:01

Originally, they're descended from the polecat in the wild.

0:23:010:23:05

They live in burrows so they have a bendy body to get down in the burrows.

0:23:050:23:10

That's basically the reason why.

0:23:100:23:12

And when you say "originally", what about now? What's their lifestyle now?

0:23:120:23:16

Are they domesticated? Ferrets are domesticated, yeah.

0:23:160:23:20

You still get the European polecat in the wild, but they were taken out of the wild 2,000 years ago,

0:23:200:23:26

roughly, for rat-catching and pets, and that is what a ferret is - a domesticated polecat.

0:23:260:23:32

Do you think they make good pets? They do, if you have a lot of time and enough space.

0:23:320:23:36

It's nice if you can have two because, as you can see, they like living in a large group.

0:23:360:23:41

And they love playing with each other, as well.

0:23:410:23:43

I bet they are incredibly popular with all the visitors here,

0:23:430:23:46

unless they try and bite your hand, like that!

0:23:460:23:49

In the meantime, here is what's still to come on today's programme.

0:23:490:23:52

Please don't try and bite me. You're supposed be a sweet little creature.

0:23:520:23:56

The lions loved their rope toy so much they wrecked it in a week,

0:23:590:24:04

but will the new one last any longer?

0:24:040:24:07

The vultures are gathering at Longleat

0:24:070:24:09

and the keepers have prepared a special feast in their honour.

0:24:090:24:13

And Seanna is getting top marks at sea lion school.

0:24:170:24:21

But will she graduate and learn to survive without her mum?

0:24:220:24:26

But first...

0:24:340:24:35

Back at the Vulture Venue, head of section Mark Tye has put out a deer carcass for the vultures to feed on.

0:24:420:24:49

To understand his new charges better, Mark wants to get a close look at their feeding habits

0:24:490:24:56

so he's set up one of our cameras.

0:24:560:24:59

Once Mark's out of the way, the vultures descend on the carcass.

0:25:000:25:04

Here is the dominant bird. It's obviously coming in to check that it's definitely dead.

0:25:110:25:16

Once he's established that, then it's a bit of a free-for-all.

0:25:160:25:20

Though at home in the air, on the ground vultures are vulnerable, so they find safety in numbers.

0:25:260:25:33

In the wild, more than 100 birds have been seen on a single carcass.

0:25:340:25:40

They would be one of the first ones onto something that had died.

0:25:410:25:45

That's why when they feed, they feed so vigorously because they've got to get as much as they can

0:25:450:25:52

before the bigger predators like lions and hyenas would come in and get the majority share.

0:25:520:25:58

If we notice as they are feeding, you'll see, at the base of their neck,

0:25:580:26:03

their crops filling up with the meat and that's the idea.

0:26:030:26:07

They have a big elastic crop that they will jam as much as they can get into in a short space of time

0:26:070:26:13

so that they can leave the scene when the bigger predators and scavengers come along.

0:26:130:26:17

Then they can sit in their trees and slowly digest the food.

0:26:170:26:21

Though they're not killers, the vultures' beak is a formidable weapon.

0:26:210:26:27

They literally use their beak to tear through the skin, the flesh and anything... small bones.

0:26:270:26:34

They pull it off with their beak and swallow it whole.

0:26:340:26:37

They don't have, like hawks, claws and talons.

0:26:370:26:41

They just use it to hold the prey down while they pull at it with their beak.

0:26:410:26:45

The beak is savage. It's a real nasty piece of work.

0:26:450:26:48

I know when we've had to catch them,

0:26:480:26:50

it's always been a bit of a worry for your fingers.

0:26:500:26:55

Because of their diet of dead and rotting meat,

0:26:590:27:02

vultures are often seen as ugly and unhygienic

0:27:020:27:06

but, in fact, they're perfectly adapted to the job they do in the wild.

0:27:060:27:10

As you can see, they stick their head right inside a carcass.

0:27:100:27:14

If you can imagine all the entrails and everything that would normally be in there,

0:27:140:27:18

it will get very messy and very dirty.

0:27:180:27:20

So they've got this adaptation where they do have the bald head and neck so it helps them stay cleaner.

0:27:200:27:26

They are nature's cleaners and without them there would be a mess lying around everywhere

0:27:280:27:32

waiting for things to rot.

0:27:320:27:34

It would take a long time so they do a very essential job.

0:27:340:27:37

In less than ten minutes, ten vultures have ripped through an adult deer carcass

0:27:400:27:46

and returned to their perches.

0:27:460:27:48

Mark can move in to inspect their handiwork.

0:27:480:27:52

Blimey! Well, that's literally just the skin and what's left of the bone.

0:27:540:28:02

There's nothing apart from odd little bits of meat.

0:28:020:28:05

Most of it has gone.

0:28:050:28:07

The vultures are sated

0:28:120:28:14

and Mark's delighted to gain a whole new perspective on his new charges.

0:28:140:28:20

Normally when we're viewing it from a side profile, if you like,

0:28:200:28:23

it just looks like a big pile of birds all climbing over each other.

0:28:230:28:27

But you can definitely see their heads and beaks are much in control.

0:28:270:28:32

They're not squabbling with each other.

0:28:320:28:34

They're just clearing up what they have to.

0:28:340:28:36

Up in lion country, the adult males have been trashing the old rope toys.

0:28:460:28:52

Earlier today, keeper Bob Trollope and I fixed up some new ones.

0:28:560:29:00

Now the time has come to put the new toys to the test.

0:29:010:29:05

Bob, we're hoping that this is now all completely parent proof.

0:29:060:29:11

Hopefully. Fingers crossed.

0:29:110:29:13

Just talk us through who we've got. We've got the two young cubs.

0:29:130:29:17

We've got Malaika and Jasira.

0:29:170:29:19

Is that Malaika in the front?

0:29:190:29:20

Malaika is the one following Luna.

0:29:200:29:22

Right. Jasira is in front of Dad.

0:29:220:29:25

And Dad is obviously Kabir.

0:29:250:29:27

So it's Mum that is leading the way.

0:29:270:29:29

I thought that Kabir would be the first one in there but obviously not.

0:29:290:29:33

Obviously, Malaika and Jasira are still getting on fantastically well.

0:29:330:29:37

Yeah, brilliantly. They are good for each other.

0:29:370:29:40

There is only a couple of months difference in their age.

0:29:400:29:43

Are they getting more aggressive as they get older?

0:29:430:29:47

Um, not towards each other.

0:29:470:29:49

They just play harder.

0:29:490:29:51

Have they both got very distinguishable personalities now?

0:29:520:29:56

Without a doubt.

0:29:560:29:57

Jasira, just wondering off, is very much like her mum.

0:29:570:30:01

A bit more adventurous.

0:30:010:30:03

I think their names reflect their character because Malaika means angel.

0:30:030:30:07

She's a bit more angelic than Jasira.

0:30:070:30:10

Jasira means courageous.

0:30:100:30:13

It is amazing how inquisitive they are

0:30:130:30:16

and how catlike - as in domestic catlike.

0:30:160:30:19

If you were to sit here for hours and hours, you would see so many things that your own cat would do.

0:30:190:30:25

Obviously, it's instilled in them to play.

0:30:250:30:29

Is that playing or is that...? I'm not quite sure what this is.

0:30:290:30:33

I'm not quite sure. She's being a little bit cautious.

0:30:330:30:38

And you see how the tail... Oh look!

0:30:380:30:41

She's going to go up to the top now.

0:30:410:30:43

It's a bit safer up there.

0:30:430:30:45

So here comes Dad now.

0:30:450:30:47

He wants to come and see what we're doing.

0:30:470:30:51

He's more concerned with the Land Rover than toys. That's for the kids.

0:30:510:30:55

Is he just going to circle us and check that we are not the threat or does he already know that?

0:30:550:31:00

He sees vehicles every day. He's more interested in where we've been walking around.

0:31:000:31:04

Like I say, there's obviously a bit of scent enrichment just by us walking around.

0:31:040:31:09

He'd just be investigating things like that.

0:31:090:31:12

He's going off and checking his tail.

0:31:120:31:14

He's found a bit of poo to roll in.

0:31:140:31:16

Having a bit of a roll over there.

0:31:160:31:19

And Mum's not too concerned about them being off on their own and getting into trouble?

0:31:190:31:25

She keeps an eye on them, I must admit, but she's a very good mum.

0:31:250:31:30

Jasira playing with Mum at the moment.

0:31:310:31:33

Stealing it from her.

0:31:330:31:35

Saying, "I want it!"

0:31:350:31:37

She's trying to drag it off and kill it.

0:31:370:31:39

That's interesting, with the back foot on there.

0:31:390:31:42

If that was a bit of prey or whatever she would be disembowelling it.

0:31:420:31:45

Really? So they are replicating what they would do

0:31:450:31:49

if they actually had prey out in the wild.

0:31:490:31:52

Well, Bob, thank you very much.

0:31:520:31:55

Let's hope this lasts longer

0:31:550:31:57

than the seven days that the last one lasted for.

0:31:570:32:02

At Longleat, Pets Corner is home to the park's smallest residents.

0:32:100:32:15

These leaf-cutter ants may be tiny but they're incredibly strong.

0:32:150:32:20

Each ant is able to carry ten times its own weight in leaf.

0:32:200:32:26

That's the equivalent of a human carrying a small car.

0:32:260:32:29

The ants harvest bits of leaf in one enclosure

0:32:300:32:33

and then carry them down these clear plastic tubes

0:32:330:32:37

all the way to their nest.

0:32:370:32:38

Over time, the tubes get mucky.

0:32:380:32:41

'I've come down to the hothouse to help keeper Rob give them a clean.'

0:32:410:32:46

I've put these bits of tape and roll on the end,

0:32:460:32:51

because as we clean each section of it, we need to block off one end

0:32:510:32:55

and the other end, otherwise they'd be all over the place.

0:32:550:32:58

In the wild, they go off to cut leaves for food, presumably?

0:32:580:33:04

They don't eat it directly.

0:33:040:33:05

They'll cut the leaf and when they get it into the nest,

0:33:050:33:10

they'll take it into smaller work-arounds

0:33:100:33:14

which will cut it up into a mushy pulp and they'll feed it to a fungus

0:33:140:33:19

and this fungus has evolved to live with them for millions of years.

0:33:190:33:24

It relies on them. Whatever they give it, it grows,

0:33:240:33:27

and then the ants eat the fungus. That's amazing!

0:33:270:33:30

Very advanced species of ant.

0:33:300:33:32

I need to get a bit off the outside of that later.

0:33:320:33:35

We'll swing this one up. This is connected to the other end.

0:33:350:33:39

We should have a full working unit again.

0:33:390:33:42

We can now feed them properly on here, can we?

0:33:420:33:45

If I swing this cupboard open,

0:33:450:33:47

hopefully I should have some stuff ready.

0:33:470:33:50

This is a little bit of planting you can put in there. OK.

0:33:500:33:55

If you pop them in the holes...

0:33:550:33:58

They have got certain favourites as well. It sounds really strange.

0:33:580:34:02

Even though they don't eat it themselves, they're really choosy.

0:34:020:34:05

One of their favourites is Rice Krispies. How bizarre!

0:34:050:34:08

I've got a funny feeling it's because it's quite light to carry.

0:34:080:34:11

When it breaks down, it's fine for them.

0:34:110:34:14

Just tip a bit of that on there. Like that?

0:34:140:34:17

Just a little bit of flaked maize. They'll carry that as well.

0:34:170:34:20

Amazing creatures.

0:34:200:34:22

We can begin to see the first ones coming up there to take the oats.

0:34:220:34:26

Enjoy your nice new clean runway, ants. ..Good job done, Rob.

0:34:260:34:32

Fascinating. Thank you very much.

0:34:320:34:34

All over the park,

0:34:430:34:45

keepers strive to make mealtimes as natural as possible

0:34:450:34:48

for each species.

0:34:480:34:49

For the giraffes, that means replicating the thorny acacia trees

0:34:510:34:55

they browse on in Africa

0:34:550:34:57

by hanging bundles of tasty leaves high off the ground.

0:34:570:35:01

I'm out in the East Africa Reserve with Head of Section Andy

0:35:020:35:06

and Warden Ryan.

0:35:060:35:07

Earlier on, guys, we put out some browse,

0:35:070:35:10

and who do we have actually eating now?

0:35:100:35:12

We've got Theresa and Imogen there.

0:35:120:35:14

Caroline waits for anything that drops on the floor!

0:35:140:35:17

It's a perfect opportunity to see just how a giraffe eats.

0:35:170:35:21

Ryan, what's the process that they go through?

0:35:210:35:24

This is quite a thorny bundle of browse up here,

0:35:240:35:28

so you can just see the ends of their tongue coming out

0:35:280:35:32

and fairly gently wrapping around the few leaves they're taking each time.

0:35:320:35:36

That's presumably why they're so very long,

0:35:360:35:39

so they can strip as many leaves as possible.

0:35:390:35:42

They need to be able to wrap round a whole branch if necessary.

0:35:420:35:45

Bearing in mind the size of a giraffe, Andy,

0:35:450:35:48

how much does one have to eat per day?

0:35:480:35:51

I think they need to eat about 35 kilograms of food a day.

0:35:510:35:55

They just eat and eat and eat.

0:35:550:35:57

Females feed for about nine hours a day and bulls for about 12 hours.

0:35:570:36:01

Acacia's got a lot of water in it as well,

0:36:010:36:03

so they don't have to drink that often.

0:36:030:36:05

Presumably, Ryan, that's why they've got such long necks,

0:36:050:36:09

so they can reach places other animals can't. Um, yeah.

0:36:090:36:12

Originally, people did think that was the reason

0:36:120:36:15

for developing a long neck,

0:36:150:36:17

but nowadays the line of thinking is it all stems from the males -

0:36:170:36:22

the males use their head and neck to spar,

0:36:220:36:25

to find out some sort of hierarchy of who's going to mate with who.

0:36:250:36:28

Hundreds of thousands of years ago,

0:36:280:36:30

the males with a bigger neck, being able to swing harder,

0:36:300:36:34

were winning the fights and mating and passing their genes on,

0:36:340:36:38

so over hundreds of thousands of years, these long necks developed,

0:36:380:36:42

not necessarily for the browsing -

0:36:420:36:44

there's plenty of browsers in Africa without a neck like that -

0:36:440:36:47

but more to do with the genetics of the bigger, longer-necked bulls

0:36:470:36:51

winning the fights.

0:36:510:36:53

And, Ryan, what about the youngsters?

0:36:530:36:56

There's a little one just behind you, actually,

0:36:560:36:58

obviously far too small to reach that sort of browse now,

0:36:580:37:02

but do the parents ever help?

0:37:020:37:04

Do they rip bits off and drop them down? Not that I've seen, Ben.

0:37:040:37:08

The younger ones will act like the camels.

0:37:080:37:12

They'll stand there, anything that falls down, they'll pick up.

0:37:120:37:16

When we first hang it, it is fairly low to start with,

0:37:160:37:21

so they might take the first low-hanging bits,

0:37:210:37:25

but the adults work so fast on it,

0:37:250:37:27

that within minutes, you're way up on the browse line,

0:37:270:37:31

and the youngsters can't reach it.

0:37:310:37:33

They love this browse. How often do you bring it out?

0:37:330:37:37

We do this daily in summer.

0:37:370:37:38

It's a lot of hard work going out and collecting it, but...

0:37:380:37:43

Really satisfying. Yeah, you see the animals doing what they should do.

0:37:430:37:47

It's what it's all about so it's nice to see.

0:37:470:37:50

Absolutely. Andy, Ryan, thank you very much.

0:37:500:37:52

I think we'll leave the giraffes to enjoy their browse.

0:37:520:37:56

Back at the sea lion holding pen,

0:38:060:38:09

Mark is still working on young Seanna's training.

0:38:090:38:12

Now he's using a method called target training.

0:38:140:38:18

Initially, when you first put the target towards them,

0:38:180:38:23

they want to sniff it,

0:38:230:38:24

so as soon as they do that, it's whistle, reward.

0:38:240:38:28

Then it's building that up until she'll put her nose on it,

0:38:280:38:32

and, again, stretching out the time

0:38:320:38:34

before you give the whistle and the reward.

0:38:340:38:37

Then you can start leading her around, she'll follow it about.

0:38:370:38:41

At the moment, she's staying still on the log,

0:38:410:38:43

and following the target.

0:38:430:38:45

I want to get her to walk behind me

0:38:450:38:48

and move along and she'll follow me out the pen.

0:38:480:38:51

The aim of this training is so that Seanna will be able to cooperate

0:38:510:38:56

should she need veterinary attention,

0:38:560:38:59

either routine or in an emergency.

0:38:590:39:01

She seems quite comfortable with lying down.

0:39:010:39:06

It's just now getting to a point where I'm confident enough

0:39:060:39:09

to try and introduce touch and feeling her flippers

0:39:090:39:12

and running my hand down her back,

0:39:120:39:14

so that in the future we can actually examine her

0:39:140:39:18

and check for any wounds or problems she may have.

0:39:180:39:22

She just seems to have picked it up really quickly and hasn't bitten me,

0:39:220:39:26

so that's a pretty good sign.

0:39:260:39:28

In fact, Seanna is one of the best pupils Mark's ever had,

0:39:280:39:33

though she has her good days and her bad days.

0:39:330:39:35

From last time when we came in,

0:39:350:39:38

it was just getting her to stand on the stump in there.

0:39:380:39:41

But she's picked that up really well now.

0:39:410:39:44

A little bit dodgy coming outside.

0:39:440:39:46

She wants to keep chasing me out of the gate, but that's a slight problem

0:39:460:39:51

which can easily be corrected. She'll soon pick that back up.

0:39:510:39:54

She was really good and has gone a little bit bad with it,

0:39:540:39:57

but she'll go back to being good. A sea lion has to be cooperative

0:39:570:40:01

to do this - if it doesn't want to, it won't.

0:40:010:40:04

So it's just a case of getting a good bond with her in here,

0:40:040:40:08

moving her down to the lake in the hippo pen there,

0:40:080:40:12

carrying on with the same regime in there for a while,

0:40:120:40:15

then releasing her back to the lake and trying to get her doing it again.

0:40:150:40:19

We'll be back to catch up with Seanna later in the series,

0:40:190:40:24

when it's time for her to rejoin her family out in the wide, open lake.

0:40:240:40:28

We're out in the deer park with head of section Tim Yeo

0:40:470:40:50

and the red deer that are all gathered around us getting food.

0:40:500:40:54

They need extra food, presumably, at this time of year, do they, Tim?

0:40:540:40:58

They certainly do, Kate, yes.

0:40:580:40:59

They're very hardy animals these - completely hardy -

0:40:590:41:03

but we do need to substitute the natural food.

0:41:030:41:06

Tim, who's this friendly one that's eating out of my hand here?

0:41:060:41:10

This is actually, er, 028! We call her 028. 028? That's...

0:41:100:41:14

Ingenious name! Presumably they do have numbers, do they?

0:41:140:41:20

She does actually have a tag number, and that's where it comes from.

0:41:200:41:24

Looking around at the herd, one thing is very noticeable.

0:41:240:41:28

You've got one male in the middle there with magnificent antlers,

0:41:280:41:34

and then a couple of others with what looks like a couple of twigs!

0:41:340:41:39

What's going on there? Very different, isn't it?

0:41:390:41:43

Kate, that literally is age.

0:41:430:41:46

They're only youngsters, about two years old.

0:41:460:41:49

And our herd stag there, we're talking six or seven years old.

0:41:490:41:53

It's quite a difference quite quickly. To go from a twig at two

0:41:530:41:58

to a whole beautiful topiary by the time they're six, is impressive.

0:41:580:42:03

Certainly. And to be honest there are some two-year-old stags,

0:42:030:42:07

or even yearling stags, that produce massive antlers.

0:42:070:42:11

It's somewhat down to genetics, it can be, and feed as well - good feed.

0:42:110:42:16

So this one has obviously done well and is hardy,

0:42:160:42:19

can cope with the bleak conditions

0:42:190:42:21

and hold on to these magnificent antlers.

0:42:210:42:24

He is magnificent. Fantastic.

0:42:240:42:27

Tim, thank you very much. Sadly, that's all we've got time for today

0:42:270:42:31

but here's what's coming up on the next Animal Park.

0:42:310:42:35

Mayhem has broken out in the aviary.

0:42:350:42:38

The spoonbills are at war and the casualties are mounting.

0:42:380:42:42

They're not giving it any time at all

0:42:420:42:44

and if they keep hounding it like that, they'll kill it.

0:42:440:42:47

There's an army trying to eat Longleat's treasures.

0:42:480:42:52

We'll be reporting on the latest battle in the war on bugs.

0:42:520:42:57

And up at Wolf Wood

0:42:570:42:59

there are pups on the way, so the keepers

0:42:590:43:03

have come up with a hi-tech solution to keep an eye on mum.

0:43:030:43:06

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd.

0:43:160:43:20

E-mail [email protected]

0:43:200:43:23

Ben Fogle and Kate Humble explore life behind the scenes at Longleat Estate and Safari Park.

The new white-backed African vultures are settling in and the keepers have arranged a special feast in their honour. It's time for Seanna the sea lion pup to leave mum and attend her first day of training. And despite being the most fearsome predators in the park, the lions of Longleat prove surprisingly playful.