Kate Humble goes down to Wolf Wood to get food for the tortoises. Meanwhile Ben Fogle puts out some super-sized cat toys for the lions, and babies are imminent on Meerkat Mountain.
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The meerkats are some of the most popular animals here at Longleat,
but following their story has been a heartbreaking experience.
There have been many glorious births, but also, tragically, many deaths at Meerkat Mountain.
Everyone has their fingers crossed as their journey continues today.
'Today on Animal Park, I'll be helping to put up new toys for the lions,
'to prove they're just big pussycats.'
'The pygmy goats have had a baby boom. We'll be meeting the new kids on the block.'
And Kate goes in search of the world's most dangerous tortoise food.
But we're starting off with high drama on Meerkat Mountain.
Meerkat Mountain is one of the most dangerous places in the park.
The collective name for a gang of meerkats is a mob,
which is quite appropriate, after all the violence and tragedy that has happened here in recent times.
-Darren Beasley is the keeper in charge.
His mission has always been to get them to breed.
But before that could ever happen, the mob had to become a settled and stable family group.
We've been trying to get the meerkat balance here right,
and it's been a real trial for all the keepers down here.
We brought in some new blood from two collections -
some girls and a single boy, a breeding male.
And it was a nightmare. There was fighting, there was squabbling,
and in the end, very sadly, there was a fatality.
They fought so badly that they killed each other.
Meerkats come from the barren deserts of southern Africa,
a landscape so harsh that the only rule is kill or be killed.
But after that murder, the mob did settle down.
An alpha male and female emerged as leaders, and finally, they began to breed.
Three pups from their first litter have survived, and they're now four months old.
It's taken years, and tears and heartache along the way,
but we're there, and long may it reign.
Once there's an established alpha couple,
there's no reason why they shouldn't just keep breeding.
A mob can easily have over 30 family members.
But at Meerkat Mountain, it seems that tragedy is never far away.
When the next litter came, there were two pups.
But one soon died, and the other was abandoned by her parents.
So, keeper John Reynolds took on the labour intensive and emotionally charged task of hand rearing.
He looked after the baby for five weeks.
And then, the time came to try to reintegrate her into the mob.
'I think she is ready to go back in with the male.
'She is old enough now, she is strong enough, she is healthy enough.
'She really needs to be back with her own kind, it's good for her.
'I mean, I can't teach her to dig in the ground
'or stand up on her two legs. I can't teach her to be a meerkat.'
This is the moment of truth.
Will the mob accept the baby back, or kill her as an intruder?
So far, this is looking good.
I'm absolutely thrilled with what's happened here,
it's gone better than I could have possibly imagined.
They've taken to her like she was never gone.
It really is absolutely incredible.
But sadly, this early success was short-lived.
Nobody knows why or how it happened, but a few days later,
John's little baby was found dead.
But this wasn't the last drama on Meerkat Mountain,
because the alpha female is now pregnant again.
And we'll be back soon to see what happens
when the next litter of pups comes along.
They may be ferocious killers who'd as soon rip your throat out as look at you,
but lions also like nothing more than a good play.
So last year, we helped put up some giant cat toys,
and it was fantastic to see how much they enjoyed the apparatus.
Unfortunately, it didn't take the lions long to tear the lot to shreds,
though the toys may have lasted longer if only they'd been a bit bigger.
Over there are some very keen lions.
I'm out in the lion enclosure with a very unusual toy,
and I've come to catch up with keeper Bob Trollope.
-A lion toy.
-Mark two, because we have done this before, haven't we?
Yes, we have, and they absolutely love this sort of stimulation.
-We've got a few new designs.
-OK. So, presumably, this is a swing.
A swingy-type thing, obviously, with added extras.
You won't find that in your normal playground!
And I've noticed the rope here is really solid.
-That is a think rope.
-This is thicker than we've used in the past.
Several reasons for that - lions have got sharp teeth and they do tend to eat it!
OK. So, where are we going to put this enormous ball?
We're going to hang it from this log here, so that they can swing and dangle on it.
But this is basically to keep them busy and occupied...
-It's not just for show, is it?
No. They have each other to play with, obviously,
but we do try to stimulate them with other things.
-And toys are something that we can...
-We've got Craig there, helping us. Morning, Craig.
Just pass that up and over.
-I think we've have to wrap this round a few times.
-Shall we put that through there?
-And pull that back.
-Then if we let that down and tighten that up around...
So, just remind me which pride this is.
This is Kabir's pride. One of the reasons why we do it in this pride
is because there's a lot of youngsters. If we go over that way...
We have to send this over now, so Craig, if you can get that.
We have to send it round quite a few times until we get it to the right height.
So this is Kabir's pride. And of course, there are some youngsters in with them now,
-who last year could barely even reach...
-They were too small last year to play with the toys we had.
-So this is going to be really new to them.
-They played with the remains!
-Because lions, as we know, are...
-Now, let's just see...
-Will that swing?
-I reckon they could do a lot with that, yeah.
Because if we go any higher, it's going to be too close to it.
I think that'll be a pretty good level.
And do you think it's going to be those youngsters that will come out here first of all,
-and just jump on it? Because walking in, they were all looking at me.
-They're keen to get out,
you can see them there. Youngsters will definitely play with this.
More likely, mum... I like to think Kabir will come over and investigate,
but whether he plays with it or not... He might just watch the kids playing, I think.
OK. Well, shall we get in?
And join us later in the programme,
and we'll find out what Kabir's pride make of their new toys.
OK, take her away, Craig!
It's not obvious, but Meerkat Mountain is hollow.
Underneath is the mob's indoor pen.
And that's where the keep in charge of them, Darren Beasley, has just made an exciting discovery.
HIGH PITCHED YELPING (You can hear the noise!)
(One, two, three, four five.)
Five brand new babies.
And mum's been brilliant, she's been nursing them, so they've had their first milk.
Hopefully this will boost our numbers again and it'll be a happy little meerkat mob.
That's what we want. So we'll leave them in peace now.
In the wild, it would be very unusual for all five to survive.
We always have this problem with any baby animal -
we get all excited on day one, but it's just the beginning of mum and dad's real hard work,
so the thing with the meerkats, if they get it right, which we know these guys can now,
is that the older brothers and sisters will help.
Bit of nice weather and they'll be out like little teddy bear miniature meerkats very soon.
And touch wood - I know it's only the first couple of hours they've been born - but it's looking excellent.
But Darren knows only too well that when there's good news on Meerkat Mountain,
bad news is often not far behind.
We'll be back very soon.
Earlier in the series, we saw what happened when Sour, the nanny goat, had triplets.
Unfortunately, she just couldn't cope with three, and so rejected the smallest one.
The little kid would certainly have died if senior warden Bev Evans hadn't intervened.
And for a while there, it was still touch and go.
But the baby did survive, was named Bubble, and has had to be bottle fed ever since.
But that was just the start of this year's pygmy goat birthing season,
so Kate has gone to meet Bev and catch up with developments.
-There seem, suddenly, to be thousands of them!
-Yes, we've got quite a lot at the moment.
We've got about 21. We had a bit of a prosperous year this year for breeding,
-we had nine kids born.
Although you would think that goats could breed very easily,
pygmy goats are quite difficult to breed, is that right?
They can be. They conceive quite well, but the breed does have
quite a high stillborn and mortality rate with the youngsters.
So it can be quite a difficult birth for them, because they are so small.
And all of them doing well, all the parents doing the things they should do?
Er, kind of. We do have two hand reared females.
Basically, two of our girls had triplets.
One didn't have enough milk, so we took one of the females off,
and the other one just kind of abandoned one of the little ones.
Oh, really? Quite often with sheep, they'll take one away and give it to another mother.
So why did you hand rear and not give it to one of the other adults?
We didn't have anyone, really, who could take one on.
They all had enough babies of their own, so we were able to hand rear them from powdered milk instead.
So which two need feeding, and how on earth do you manage to feed them and not all the others?
-Well, there are two, you can see...
-..they're the two keenest. This is Dora and Bubble.
Bubble was the one who was abandoned by her mum, Sour.
We don't really know why, she just was,
so we had to intervene quite dramatically.
Now, I heard that really, you were key in saving Bubble's life, she wasn't going to make it.
Yes, Andy and I kept an eye on her throughout the day, but she went downhill.
She got a little bit cold, and generally, she was kind of at death's door, to be blunt.
But we just kept rubbing her with a towel, things like that,
syringed some colostrum, which we milked off Sour,
and just tried to keep her spirits up.
And it didn't take too long, just a few hours, until she stood up on her own.
Shall we try giving them some food now, and see what they want to do?
I don't think I've ever hand fed a goat before! Lambs, yes, goats, no.
This is Bubble, she has a little less milk as she's a bit smaller.
Is there a knack to it?
Just head it towards her mouth and just lift up slightly,
she kind of does the rest, but she's incredibly strong for her size.
As you can see!
It must be quite hard being a mother goat, actually!
They really do push to get the milk out, don't they?
Yeah, and as you can see, it doesn't take them very long to actually drink most of the milk.
They're absolutely adorable. It must be very rewarding for you
to get them to this stage, get them to the stage where they can almost go and be completely independent.
They've done very well the whole way through,
we haven't had any problems with them at all, touch wood!
So yeah, it's been really good.
You're getting it all over your head!
That's it, crikey! Absolutely done and dusted, Bubble,
you can keep sucking on that, but I don't think you're going to find any more.
Bev, they're a complete credit to you, very well done.
You're not going to give up, are you, little one?
And we look forward to seeing her out and grazing on the grass very, very soon.
Well done, you two! Aren't you brilliant? Yes!
Keeping the safari park running smoothly seven days a week, 52 weeks a year
is a massive logistical operation.
There are over 100 members of staff responsible for everything
from caring for the animals to maintaining the grounds.
But of all the jobs, one of the most important is just keeping the animals well fed.
With 900 animals in the park, there's a lot of mouths to feed,
about 90 species, you know, it's a big operation.
Mark Tye is the keeper in charge of looking after all the lake animals.
But he's also responsible for supplying food to the entire safari park.
We have to make sure that it's all done and ordered,
and delivered on time. Animals don't wait for anybody, they expect their food on time,
at the right time and in the right way, so we have to make sure we're on the ball
and we all get it sorted every day.
Hardly a day goes by without a food delivery of some sort.
With some many different species, each with their own dietary requirement,
Lake animals keeper Michelle Stephens also has a lot on her plate.
'This is the feed store, this is where it all happens.
'This is where we make all the feed up for the whole safari park,
'and we distribute it out to everyone.'
And it's important to keep the pantry organised.
Dog biscuits and whole maize, which are given to the monkeys.
Bran in this one, which is given to the giraffes.
We've got some primate pellets - this is a very good specialist diet for the monkeys
and our gorilla, as well.
This is something called cattle crunch, and it's what some of the hoof stock have.
-Over here, we've got the fruit and vegetables.
-The monkeys in particular are big fruit eaters.
And we get a lot of boxes of apples and oranges a year, just for those alone.
In this bin here, we've got the flamingo food.
It's a specialist diet for the flamingos.
It's got a colouring agent in it, which keeps the flamingos nice and pink.
In the wild, flamingos go pink because of a natural substance in their food.
But here, they need that supplement.
Here we've got linseed lozenges, which we give to the giraffes,
as a supplementary diet. We have chinchilla pellets...
'The other major thing is the fish delivery, which is important to me, for my animals,
'the sea lions and pelicans.'
We get this about every six to eight weeks.
It's a fair amount, keeps us going for a little while.
Also, here, we've got some salt licks and some copper licks.
This is given to the hoof stock, just a vitamin boost for them.
We've got large mixed nuts, things like walnuts, brazil nuts, that sort of thing.
The parrots in Pets Corner absolutely love these, it's like a treat that they get.
And that's basically the whole feed room.
Every year, between them, the animals consume 44 tonnes of meat...
13 tonnes of fish...
42 tonnes of high fibre food,
8,000 bales of hay,
and 1,500 lettuces.
Plus a whole host of other fruit, vegetables, nuts, maize, bran,
corn, biscuits... and some very juicy bugs.
First thing every morning, Mark loads up his van and heads off round the park.
All the sections are keen that they get their food as early as they can.
so we have to get in early and get it all delivered as quick as possible.
-Anything else you need?
-That's all? All right, cheers, then.
It's one of those things, people just expect their food to arrive every morning,
and sometimes they don't appreciate what it takes to get it there, so, you know, there's a lot of work
that goes into making sure that all of this food is delivered on time.
It's a big job to make sure we don't forget anything, because if we do, then on our heads be it, you know!
We'll be back with Mark and Michelle later
to discover who's the greediest feeder,
and to find out some of the strange things that animals eat.
I am out in Wolf Wood,
and I mean OUT in Wolf Wood, with Deputy Head Warden, Ian Turner.
Ian, this seems very, very unwise!
Usually, we only ever get out to feed the wolves
and then get back into the feed truck.
-But we're just here with our Land Rover - why?
-We need tortoise food.
-This is tortoise food.
Plantain, which we need to get. We haven't been able to do this for the last three or four weeks,
-because of the wolf pups.
-The parents have got a bit better now, they're letting us do this.
When you say, "a bit better," what were they like before?
-You literally couldn't get on the grass. If you did, they would be over here now.
Quite aggressive. I mean, they are beginning, in a slightly nerve-wracking way,
to move round, in a sort of pincer movement!
I'm just looking over there...OK, so we'd better pick this grass.
OK, why is this good for tortoises, and surely, it grows somewhere else in the park?
It does, but because we haven't been able to do this for the last four weeks,
I've been depleting the stocks of it everywhere else.
And now the wolves have quietened down, it's the ideal time to grab it.
And what's so good about it for tortoises?
It's got all the vitamins they need. Perfect tortoise food.
-OK. So we need to get this whole sackful?
Blimey. That's quite a lot, Ian. I'll pick, you just keep an eye on the wolves!
-Go for this big stuff, it's always best.
So, I mean, presumably, the wolves are a bit more relaxed now
-because the cubs are a little bit...
-Bit bigger, they can defend for themselves now.
They're not worried about us doing anything to them.
..He says with his fingers crossed. LAUGHTER
Now these are Canadian timber wolves. What would their prey be?
They'd look for rabbits and stuff like that in the wild and they'd look out for moose.
-So, if you've got a sick moose they would follow it
maybe for 20, 30 miles until it collapses and then they'll be on it.
OK, well we've got a pretty good amount there. How many tortoises have we got to feed?
-We've got lots, we need a bit more.
-We need more.
-If you bring the sack here.
So, is this a special treat for tortoises
or something that you try and give them as often as possible?
-Dandelions which are more or less coming out of season now.
And plantain as I say is a big one.
We don't want to take too much, we can always come back another day.
-That's a good sackful, all right?
We're going to run back in.
Mission successfully accomplished, now all we've got to do is go and feed the tortoises.
Join us later.
At Meerkat Mountain, the five new babies are no six weeks old
and it's a very special day for them and their keeper John Reynolds.
It's a lovely day today so we've decided that we're going to let the meerkats out.
We have let them out before but this is going to be the first full day.
It's very rare for them to have five
and, to be honest, we didn't expect all of them to survive.
And we've got the results now, we've got all five still living
and absolutely incredible.
And now, here they come.
Meerkats don't start to get their adult markings until they're around three months old
but they are born with those black patches round their eyes
which make them look like little gangsters.
There's a large enclosure to be explored and plenty of mischief to get up to.
Already their personalities are starting to show. Some are more adventurous than others.
And, at the end of the day, they're all exhausted
and ready to go back into their house under the Mountain.
Eagle-eyed John has been watching them closely
and has spotted that one has a minor injury.
They've been bounding around, playing,
having a whale of a time out there but one of them has hurt his eye or something.
It's either got caught on a stick or something outside or possibly been fighting.
So it's gone a bit sore.
So we're just going to put some medication on it
if there's any infection to clear any infections
but also just for our peace of mind, really.
'Meerkats identify each other mainly by smell
'so John makes sure he gets the mob's scent on his hands
'before he administers the eye drops.'
Come on. Here we go.
Right, here he is.
We don't really want to work unless we absolutely have to
but we're just trying to step in there before anything happens.
You all right?
Over the next few days, John keeps a close eye on them.
By watching their parents, the babies quickly learn
to eat bugs and fruit, the staples of a meerkat diet.
And because there are five brothers and sisters,
there's a lot of rough and tumble at dinner time.
From a young age, even in the wild, the babies, they would fight amongst themselves
cos they want more food, they want to be the strongest and biggest.
In the wild, it would be survival of the fittest.
In the barren deserts where they come from, food is very scarce
and an extra mouthful can be the difference between life and death.
Meerkat Mountain is a much safer place to grow up
but it's not completely without hazards.
One has had fall and is limping.
Although John's concerned,
he knows it could be more dangerous to intervene.
We'll keep an eye on it for now, the next couple of days -
monitor it, make sure it's all right.
We'll do it from a distance to begin with, we don't really want to go in there, picking it up every day.
For one thing, it'll stress it and the mum out and we don't want that
so we'll just keep an eye on it, see how it goes.
So far there's only been a couple of minor injuries
but these little ones still have a long way to go.
We'll be back later to see if they all survive.
Earlier on, I helped keeper Bob Trollope put out some cat toys for the lions
and not it's time to release them.
So, Bob, we've got all of the rope out there.
It's all looking pretty good. So, are we ready to let the lions out?
Yeah, I'll just give Craig a shout.
Can you let them out now, Craig, please.
And any idea which... Here they come!
I was going to ask which one might come first.
So who is that that's come straight in?
That's Jasira and then you've got the small ones, last year's youngsters.
So they like the swing. Straightaway!
Oh, that's it!
Wow, look at the power of that.
So, they're not nervous about new things, are they?
No, there's curiosity.
Straightaway one them gets on the top and starts chewing.
And it's almost like it's co-ordinated,
that a few have gone up to the top and the rest are down at the bottom.
Using their mouths and claws,
are they feeling it or are they playing with it still?
That's... Everything that they would use is as if that was a prey animal.
Oh, here they go for the middle one.
So, who's that playing there?
That is Jasira again. She seems to be the one that investigates them first.
And there's a lot of weight on that.
She's weighing in the region of about 150 pounds and that's taking that easily.
Look at those teeth going into it and the claws!
They have actually...
They haven't spotted the ball which is my favourite.
But as soon as they do...
See a lot of them want to go up the top and play.
And is that partly because the smell from us
when we were actually putting them up?
Yeah, we've been clambering all over the top of them
and actually there's a vegetable oil soaked into the rope as well,
so that'll be wafting around as well.
They put that on there to keep the rope supple, so it's easier to work.
Bob, it's such a fantastic sight
just seeing them all playing like little household cats.
Yeah, and that will keep them going for hours and hours and hours.
And it's only when they actually chew through the rope
that they become defunct.
And, obviously, that's the big debate, you know,
how long these are realistically going to last.
What do you think will be the first thing to give way?
Probably that one that Zazzie's playing on.
The thing is, you know, you've got to use rope that is degradable.
If they're biting it and then they're going to get little bits of them,
if that was nylon rope then...
Now, we've got going over to the ball... Who is that?
-That is Luna.
-So Luna's going over to test out...
-Oh, it's moving!
-Not really quite sure what to make of that.
Might need a bit of backup!
Exactly what I was going to say, the others are busy.
Look, look, look! That's so cool!
That is so cool!
Look, now we've got a little bit more confidence with the ball
over there with Luna although she still would like some backup.
As soon as they realise that there's another toy,
then they're going to play with that as well.
They get hours of enjoyment.
It's almost as if they're trying to take them down.
Up on the top of the tree stump there,
they're tearing at the rope that we tied around the top.
They obviously remember from last time that,
"If I chew this bit then that falls off and we can run around with it."
And they loved running around with it, didn't they?
-And that's not a worry for you because it's all safe...
It's safe. That will break down
and any little bits that are left on the ground, they will rot
and that is ultimately what we want.
If you were using nylon then that would stay there for years and years and years as you know.
But this all rots down to nothing.
Fantastic. Well, Bob, thank you for letting me help you
and I think we have some very, very contented lions.
This is a fantastic new addition to Pets Corner.
I'm here with keeper, Jo Hawthorn and this beautiful, beautiful snake.
-What is it Jo?
-It's a corn snake.
What? I'm amazed, I thought corn snakes are usually smaller than this.
They are. They're really colourful, Kate, and they start off like little colour pencils if you like.
Obviously he's nine now and, believe it or not, although they stay very long and thin,
they can go up to kind of five, six foot long.
The colours are stunning, aren't they?
He's a he, as you say. Has he got a name?
Yeah - MC.
-Which is short for something.
OK! Come on, what is it?
Mischievous Corn Snake.
-He's always trying to escape.
-So, we all lock him away in his vivarium, lock the lock...
-..And he's just got that tiny head there and, obviously, these are very strong.
-And he always, he just manages to get out.
He is, he's like Houdini.
We should have called him Houdini!
-Can get out of everything!
How amazing, I mean, he is incredibly strong, just holding him.
He's a constrictor like the pythons that you've got.
He is. So he's really strong. It's obviously mostly muscle and you can feel round your arm now.
They really do catch on.
He's absolutely gorgeous but to humans, presumably, no danger at all.
They're not normally seen out in daytime.
They normally come out at night anyway and if you were walking where these hang out
they will get out your way, they are a very secretive kind of snake.
They're not harmful in any way to us.
He is absolutely gorgeous even if you are mischievous!
Well, Jo, thank you very much for introducing me.
Do you think you'll stick around long enough to tell us what's on the rest of the programme?
Still to come on today's Animal Park...
..we're going back to Meerkat Mountain to find out if all five babies survive.
Will Winky the one-wheel tortoise go for the wolves' weeds?
And Jamie Oliver's got nothing to beat Alexa's secret recipe -
just ask the ferrets.
Just a few months ago, three brothers arrived at Longleat
to begin a reign of terror in the East Africa reserve.
Their names -
Vlad The Impaler,
Attila The Hun
and Genghis Khan.
# What's that coming over the hill?
# Is it a monster? Is it a monster?
# What's that... #
They're warthogs, the first ones they've ever had here.
The keeper in charge of them is Andy Hayton and he's still getting to know the brothers.
Already he's found their names are not completely silly.
When we got hold of them we did think,
"Oh, yes. Pigs with big teeth" kind of thing.
We weren't that blase we knew that they were aggressive, we had read up on them.
We've learnt very quickly that these guys go from flat calm
to absolutely freaking and running around at 1,000 miles an hour in the bat of an eye.
And full speed is flying and they can be three or four feet off the ground.
Pigs can't jump.
Well, these guys can.
Very hard, you don't get any warning when they're going to get frightened or start running around.
You do have to treat them with kid gloves but they are aggressive, they're pretty scary when they start.
One of these guys here, it would be like getting hit by a steamroller at 40 miles an hour.
I really do not want one of these guys to get a hold of me, they're scary!
For now, Vlad, Attila and Genghis are being kept in a paddock by themselves
until Andy can assess just how wild and dangerous they really are.
We haven't got anything else like them.
You say warthog to somebody, they know exactly what you mean!
You know, they're characters and these three boys are something else.
When you're with them in the morning and you go and check them,
they'll come over the brow of the hill and they're looking at you.
There's stuff going on inside their heads and they're so ugly that they're cute.
In Africa where they come from warthogs are omnivorous. You name it, they'll eat it!
In turn, they are a favourite foodstuff for lions
and because of that, warthogs have evolved an unusual posture for grazing.
They've got pads, thick pads on their knees.
So, they graze down on their knees. Plus if they were to bow their head a lot to eat,
predators, obviously, would be able to take a shot at them a lot easier
but as they go on their knees,
they keep their heads up so their vision's better.
Come on, boys!
The three brothers were about a year old when they came here from Colchester Zoo.
Keeper Ryan Hockley has noticed
they've calmed down a lot since they first arrived.
I think they're getting there.
Much better than they were to start with.
But it's just been a matter of them sort of settling into their area
and just giving them time to settle down.
I don't think there'll ever be any sort of physical contact.
You know, we'll never be petting them or anything like that, I don't think.
They have their little squabbles in the day, but like I say, it's pretty good natured.
But at the end of the day, they are definitely a trio.
Ryan and Andy are still getting to know the terrible trio
and later on we'll join them to find out what Vlad, Attila and Genghis
get up to when no-one's looking.
There are about 900 animals at Longleat
and most of them are fussy eaters.
The job of supplying food to the whole park
falls on the shoulders of Mark Tye and his team.
The making up of the feeds and stuff
is probably not my most enjoyable part of my job.
It's a job that's got to be done.
We do it, hopefully very well.
First thing every morning,
the food is distributed to all the different sections of the safari park.
Then, the keepers in each section make up the meals for each of their animals.
And food at Longleat can be served in any number of ways.
It can be dropped from the back of a tractor,
thrown off the side of a boat,
trailed out the door of a car, hidden up a tree,
dangled from a tree, stuffed in a tree,
or sprinkled on the ground.
Carefully chopped, handfed, bottle-fed,
spoon-fed and even sometimes, just for a change,
served up on a plate.
Down in Pets Corner, head of section Darren Beasley and his team
have got food preparation down to a fine art.
We've got more animals in Pets Corner than the rest of the park put together.
They all have their own dietary requirements.
We are up against it here. We have so many hungry animals all the time,
it's a never-ending cycle.
Everything from exotic fruit from papaya and mango,
all the way down to whole chickens and things like that.
It's an incredible amount of food.
You've got to remember, how many animals have I got in that enclosure?
What time do they need their food? How do they need it presented?
Do they like it with multivitamins sprinkled on it? Chopped lengthways
or in segments? And this is just skimming the surface.
We tease the poor guys up in the lion reserve -
they probably do the most dangerous job in the park,
but they drive a tractor and chuck meat out! What's the skill in that?
Today, in addition to the regular order,
keeper Alexa Fairbairn has asked Mark for some special ingredients for the ferrets.
We get requests to get things that they don't normally have on an everyday basis -
the ferrets, for example,
so we've gone off and had to go around the supermarket and shops
looking for the necessary things they require.
Let's see how much he weighs.
A few months ago, we did have a problem. A mystery illness
swept in, basically and a few of them did get very poorly.
So we requested for Mark to bring down some different treats for them,
to build them up a little bit more, and hopefully, they'll like it.
Back in the kitchen, Alexa has a recipe for today's special -
ferret food cordon bleu.
-MUSIC: M&S ADVERT
-Simply take one finely chopped cucumber,...
..toss in a spattering of raisins...
..two spoonfuls of creamy peanut butter.
They love peanut butter but it does have to be the smooth variety.
Anything with chunks can get lodged in their digestive system.
..Gently squeeze on some delicious multivitamin paste,...
..add a generous dollop of succulent dog food,
and then, the finishing touch -
drench with aromatic cod liver oil.
This isn't just ferret food,
this is special dietary supplement ferret food.
And there we go.
That's all very well but will they like it?
There we are.
Well, this is brilliant to see, a lot of them are tucking in,
particularly some of the older ones,
they obviously like it.
We'll keep weighing them every couple of weeks,
particularly the older ones like little Angus here.
We'll keep weighing him to make sure he's OK.
We'll try another recipe in a couple of weeks,
and see how they get on with that one as well.
Pick out their favourites
and maybe make it into a more regular thing.
The ferrets aren't the only ones with special requests.
The keepers always try to give their animals just what they want -
whether that's hot potatoes to keep the monkeys warm in the winter,
or blackcurrant squash.
Dates and natural yoghurt for Nico the gorilla.
'Medicine for Nico has to be disguised.'
So the only way we've found to get him to take it every day
is to mix it with yoghurt.
But out of Longleat's 90 species, who has the largest appetite of all?
In fact, there's no mystery. The biggest eater is the biggest animal.
Winston, the bull rhino weighs two and a half tonnes.
And every day, he consumes 25 kilos of hay,
and up to four and a half kilos of high-fibre pellets.
But while Winston eats the most food,
he's not the greediest.
In fact, that title goes to one of the smallest animals -
the Egyptian fruit bats.
Every day, each of them will eat their own body weight in fruit.
That's like me eating a hundred pineapples or 600 bananas
or even a thousand plums
Well, I'm back with Deputy Head Warden, Ian Turner.
We're out in Pets Corner with lots of hungry tortoises.
A sackful of plantain, which you've washed, Ian.
Why did you bother to do that?
Just to get the smell of wolves off it, just in case they've marked it.
Oh, yes, of course, because wolves do scent-mark quite a lot.
And presumably, that wouldn't be very tasty for the tortoises!
So that's washed now, so...
So let's put this out, do we, into these trays...
Into these trays.
They're probably not going to eat so much today,
because of the weather, and being a bit cold.
Do we need to leave it whole?
Yeah, they'll just tuck in.
-Here we are.
-34's coming in already.
Look at that. Oh, yeah! Already heading in.
And is this, as well as being really good for them,
is it a bit of a favourite?
Yeah, yeah. It is.
This and dandelions...is probably their favourite two things.
And apart from this wild food that you give them,
what else is it important to feed tortoises to keep them healthy?
Well, literally, the best thing that you can do is get the wild stuff.
-Oh, is it?
-By a long way.
I mean, lettuce isn't very good because it's got no goodness in it,
tomatoes is a bit of extra stuff you can do,
but literally, it's the wild stuff from your garden.
Dandelions. They like cuttlefish, it's good for them,
which birds get and nibble on, so all that sort of thing's good,
so it's all natural stuff, really. You've just got to get something which you can naturally get.
Right, I'll tell you what I'll do. I'm gonna do a little bit of a help here,
because one of my favourite tortoises, Winky down here,
so called because he's got a wheel instead of his back leg,
haven't you, mate? I'm just going to help you over...
and see if you would like a go at this plantain,
which Ian and I picked at great peril to ourselves.
Is he impressed?
Not really, Ian!
Oh, Winky! Show some gratitude!
Well, Ian, thank you very much, that was indeed an experience.
Probably the most dangerous way to collect tortoise food there is in the world.
Just enjoy it and be grateful, you lot!
At Meerkat Mountain, the mob are in mourning.
Although all five babies survived for two months,
and seemed to be doing well,
there's now been some very bad news.
A few days ago, Darren Beasley arrived
to find that the baby with the poorly eye had died in the night.
If that wasn't bad enough,
the next day, he discovered that another of the pups
had succumbed to a mystery ailment.
One minute, everyone's really elated, and really happy,
and we're all raising the roof and swapping the cigars,
cos we've got babies,
and the next minute it's all very sad
because nature can be so cruel and heartless,
and we've lost a couple of babies, which is really quite sad.
It's yet another blow for meerkat keeper, John Reynolds.
It was just shock to begin with, but we were absolutely devastated.
But we've got used to the fact that they've gone.
So we've just got to get on with it and focus on the three that are still here.
John doesn't have time to dwell on these sad events,
because right now, they're expecting a special visitor.
Lord Bath himself has come down from the Great House
to meet the meerkat pups.
He's concerned to find there's now only three.
Can you be sure it's not the parents killing them?
We don't think it's the parents killing them,
because if it was, there'd be bite marks and blood.
We'll keep a close eye on the rest of these ones, and hope for the best.
Well, now they've got this far, which is what, three months old?
Two months old, nearly. About eight weeks.
How good are the chances that they'll reach adulthood?
Another month or so, they'll be more or less self-sufficient.
And hopefully, they will survive, the rest of them.
Do they nip?
You wouldn't ever put your hand underneath and pick up?
Er, no. Not without gauntlets or for very good reason.
I think I'm liable to surreptitious attack from behind!
Of course, the meerkats aren't really gangsters or bandits,
despite the names that John suggested for the three little ones.
Possibly the Good, the Bad and the Ugly!
It's just that they look so mischievous.
And, despite all the tragedies,
there's something about the mob that many people can identify with.
We can relate to them because they're a family group. Everybody looking after each other.
I could spend hours in here, if I didn't have a real job to do!
If I didn't have to do proper work, I'd just sit in here for hours and enjoy this.
It's nice to have things to be proud of, and I'm really proud of this.
CLOCK BELLS RING
I'm in the hall with head cleaner, June Windass,
and we've just listened to one of the fantastic clocks in this house.
Now, they can't all do that, surely?
No, not all of them.
This one is the oldest clock in the house.
It's the original clock,
and it is still able to do all the functions that it's always been carried out to do.
And this dates back to practically when this house was first built.
It's hundreds and hundreds of years old.
It's a 17th-century clock. Beautiful.
Now, I'm assuming this isn't the only clock in the house.
Oh, no. We've got lots more.
All different shapes and sizes.
-Shall we go and see some?
-OK. Lead the way.
-First one's in the ante-library.
-OK, down this way.
'In fact, there are nearly 30 clocks in Longleat's 128 rooms,
'many of them very rare and precious.'
Ah, now, this looks slightly more manageable. A slightly smaller clock here.
-Now, I'm assuming you have a number of different keys for all the different clocks in the house.
-That's this one.
-So do you have a special collection for all the other ones?
-Is this the key bag?
The biggest one of the collection is this one.
Look at that! That is quite a key.
And how do you know how far you can wind?
I wind them just so much. Just enough to know that the clock will work,
but not to overwind it and bust the springs.
We just go very carefully.
Then we check the time. That is a little bit fast, but I'll leave it as is.
Now, June, I know you've been working here for 25 years! I have to whisper it.
You must obviously have your favourite parts of the house,
favourite rooms, favourite clocks.
Where is your favourite, then?
My favourite room is the state drawing room.
It is so opulent. It's beautiful.
-And my clock's in there, too.
-Can we go?
-Yes, we can.
-OK. I'll follow you.
CLOCKS TICK AND CHIME
So, June, this is your favourite room, is it?
Yes, it is. It's beautiful.
It's comfortable, it's homely...
and it's got so many lovely things in it.
I can hear the clock before I can actually see it.
This is fantastically ornate, isn't it?
It is. It's gorgeous.
This is your favourite of all the clocks you have to wind up?
-This is what the enormous key is for?
-Yes, that's right!
-I'll let you do the winding of this one.
While you're doing that, before you came along in the house,
who would have done this in days of old?
Well, there used to be a chap, Eddie, his name was,
and he used to come round and do all the clocks for us.
When he retired, it was handed down to me.
And we take care of them as much as we can.
We don't wind them any more than we feel is necessary.
Once it starts becoming tight, we stop.
With so many clocks to look after, you must be a very good timekeeper!
-I'm always late!
Speaking of late, Jane, I think we've got a lot more clocks to do.
You'd better leave us to it.
Just look at the number of keys still left to go!
When Vlad the Impaler, Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan arrived a couple of months ago,
it was the first time they'd ever had warthogs at Longleat.
To start with, the three brothers charged around like monsters,
but they've calmed down a bit.
Andy Hayton and the other keepers are still getting to know them.
Now, he wants to find out what they get up to while no-one's looking,
after dark, in the warthog house.
Can you turn that infra-red lamp on, mate?
This is the small camera, that's wired up to a hard drive. Infra-red camera.
So we should hopefully be able to see when they come in
how many come in, when they lie down...
the more that we can learn about the animals we look after,
hopefully, the better we can do for them.
Some mornings you come in and this place is absolutely trashed,
so I think there are a few parties now and again. Must be.
In the wild, warthogs sleep in burrows.
Usually, it's one they've taken over from whoever actually dug it.
Often, some poor aardvark.
But for Vlad, Attila and Genghis, does sundown mean party time?
Early next morning, the brothers are back outside in their paddock as usual,
while Andy and keeper Ryan Hockley rendezvous at the house
to see what the spy camera has recorded.
There's only one at the moment.
But I think this was about ten o'clock.
We put their food in the pen next door, so they may have come in and eaten. We haven't seen that.
This is just when they're coming in, kind of almost settling down for the night.
As you can tell when you go in in the morning, if the bed's been laid in or not, cos they normally...
We've heard they huddle together to keep warm. So that'll be quite interesting if we see this.
See if they do do it at night.
Spinning on an hour, it looks like bedtime.
-This guy down here's really pulling it around.
-It's almost like they're nesting, isn't it?
Nice to see all three of them in there, though.
So we know that nobody...nobody gets pushed out or anything.
Settling down now.
See them going backwards a lot into these corners, as well.
-Almost like they're backing into a hole.
-Into a burrow, yeah.
Quite interesting, they're eating a lot of straw as well. Really filling up on the straw.
But if they eat their bedding, how are they going to keep warm?
They'll actually huddle together like this to keep warm,
because they find it quite hard to regulate their body temperature.
That's why you'll see this. But there is only two here...
Unless the other one is actually tucked right down in the corner or they're laid on top of him.
Possibly one of them is out there, staying awake, standing guard.
Exactly. Sort of like a sentry, almost.
Lots of animals will do it. One will stay awake watching the rest of the group sleep.
Maybe these guys do it too.
Yeah, it's always fascinating, really, to see your animals at night.
Things you've worked with for donkey's years during the day,
it may seem completely different at night. It's a very strange thing,
it's hard to put your finger on it, but it's quite weird.
They look quite cute when they're asleep!
Like most things.
I wouldn't like to go and wake 'em up quick, mind.
We knew they were coming in, because like I say, the bed has been disturbed
and obviously food disappears. Just nice to see animals when we're not here. It's kind of their place
in the middle of the night.
Very rarely do we see what's going on here then, so it is quite intriguing.
With Vlad, Attila and Genghis looking so peaceful,
you almost wonder if they've got the names wrong.
How about Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail?
Or maybe not.
I'm out in the deer park with head of section Tim Yeo.
Something that the public love, Tim, is coming in here
and feeding the deer from their cars. So we're snuck in
to our Land Rover here, watching these beautiful if rather skittish
fallow deer, Tim, the one with the spots.
That's right, Kate, yes. They're actually in regrowth at the moment.
Annually, their antlers fall off, and very, very quickly after that,
you start to get the regrowth coming.
It takes...I think about four months for it to be fully regrown again.
And what I notice from these antlers
is that they're obviously very smooth and bony,
but looking at the ones out here, they look like they're almost furry.
It's a protective layer of skin and hair
which has a vast amount of blood vessels within it,
which is constantly feeding that growing bone, as it were.
Right, so that is...it's giving the bone, there...
it's almost like the sort of fertiliser surrounding the bone.
What about - I mean, we've obviously got very different sizes here.
What determines the size of an antler?
Well, we certainly...we have a very young animal here.
-This animal is about two to three years old.
About three years old. And then we go into an animal
-about four or five years old.
And then we come into a rather impressive-looking monster, this thing!
I mean, I hasten to add that not all bucks grow antlers quite like this,
but that really is a very good example of a fallow deer's antler.
This is where the antler casts from what is known as the pedicle,
which grows from the skull of the animal.
And it's actually here, when it's cast,
it's broken a bit of the pedicle away there.
It's quite a brutal thing, it's not just like breaking a fingernail.
It must be a very strange feeling when they get rid of them.
Oh, very much, because they often don't cast them -
we call it casting when they fall off. It often doesn't happen simultaneously,
so they're left with...
So they could be completely lopsided? They're incredible things,
it's absolutely fascinating. All our males have now left us, so maybe that should be our sign to go too.
Tim, thank you very much indeed. Beautiful things.
Earlier in the programme, I helped to put out some brand new toys for the lions here.
And now, Kate and I have come back up to see what they've made of them!
-Er, they've done a pretty good job, Craig.
-Pretty much finished them off.
This is marine rope. Ships ply the world with this,
and they've shredded it. They've just pulled it apart.
-Look at that!
-So this, Kate, cos you didn't necessarily see it in its former glory, was a swing...
-..which they've eaten most of the wood.
-They have, yes.
Now, just down this way, we had a big ball that seems to have totally gone.
-Is there anything left?
-Is this the remains of it, do you think?
-That's it, yep.
Was there one lion in particular that you think did most of this damage, or was it teamwork?
Mainly teamwork. The little ones, mainly. Kabir, he didn't really pay much attention to it.
-He just sat in the background.
This is gone as well!
-This is actually the remains of one of the balls.
-One of the balls!
That is as... I mean, joking apart, it's quite funny,
-but can you imagine if this was you?
It really shows you how powerful they are, doesn't it?
You can see one of the claw marks as well on the trees.
Look at that! That is astonishing.
-And this is young lions just playing.
-Yeah. About a year old, year old ones.
I tell you what, last year when we put them up,
we thought we had to build them even stronger this time, which we did,
-and no difference at all.
-Yeah. No, Fogle, you're hopeless.
Next year they're gonna be this big!
Ha-ha! Well, Craig, thank you very much indeed.
We'll have to, as you say, think of something new for the lions next year.
Sadly, though, that's all we've got time for on today's programme,
but here's what's coming up on the next Animal Park.
When it's feeding time for the tigers, you'd think they'd go for the meat, not our tyres!
Is this the latest food fad from the Far East?
No. It's a fiendish plot to make the otters work harder.
And four keepers from Longleat have volunteered to help with conservation projects deep in
the African Bush. We'll be following the action when their trip turned into the adventure of a lifetime.
So don't miss the next Animal Park.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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Stories from Longleat Safari Park with Ben Fogle and Kate Humble.
Kate bravely goes down to Wolf Wood to get food for the tortoises. Meanwhile Ben puts out some super-sized cat toys for the lions, and all eyes are on Meerkat Mountain as some babies are imminent.