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We're out in the middle of lion country.
We're safe for now because it's daylight and we've got keepers
protecting us with guns, but at night, it's a whole different story.
Yes, when the sun goes down, it's a lion's instinct to hunt
so we're going to come back with a big feed to find out what they get up to after dark.
Coming up on today's especially creepy show -
we open the vaults on some of the estate's most terrifying tales.
We swore we'd never ever go in there again and to this day I have never.
Meet a savage predator that oozes toxic slime.
And the lions do much more than go bump in the night.
At the park, lions are the king of the carnivores.
Just like there wild cousins, they only eat three to four times a week
but when they do, the males consume
the equivalent of ten average-sized family roasts at each sitting.
They're fed from a meat wagon which forces them to chase their food,
just as they would in the wild.
Out on the plains of Africa, they are powerful hunters
and they'll take anything that moves and breathes.
As most of their prey can run faster than them,
they work in well-organised groups, ganging up and then pouncing.
But it's at night, when their senses are heightened, that they are at their most deadly.
So back at the park, their keepers have decided to give Charlie and his pride of five females
their dinner after dark.
Why would feeding the lions at night be different from feeding them during the day?
-A lot more happens at night. Cats are nocturnal and lions are as well.
-In the wild, they would generally feed at night also.
So I suppose, in a way, it's a form of enrichment...
-..by us doing it.
-So it's something a bit different...?
-A bit different from normal.
OK. We are taking advantage of the fact that Bob and Brian are going to be feeding the lions later,
which explains why we've got all this unbelievable amount of kit all around us here.
What I'm going to do is ask you to look up there and you can see that
there are some sort of brackets, magic arms they're called, clamped to the fence
and those got cameras on them, they're infrared cameras, which means that they can film in the dark.
Brian is doing a wonderful job of being our body double, almost literally.
-That's where the meat is going, isn't it, Bob?
-We'll put the meat down there,
so those cameras will be able to film that meat.
Now, you may think, how do they work in the dark? They need sunlight.
Well, we thought of that too.
We've got this, which is an infrared light.
You can probably just see a bit of red on there but this is brilliant,
this stuff, because what it'll do is actually flood this area with light that's totally invisible to the lions
and to us, but on a special infrared camera like those two up there,
they can then pick up that light
and it will almost look like daylight, only slightly spookily black and white.
-And come and have a look at this, Bob, because it's brilliant.
The left-hand camera is on what's called a hothead,
which means it's remote control and, Bob, in fact let me... if you hold that...
-You can see Brian, looking a bit shifty there, actually,
and look, we can turn the camera to the left, to the right,
we can pan it up and down,
which means we can get really good lion action wherever they happen to be.
Do you think that they will be kind of excited by this, Bob?
I should imagine there's going to be plenty of action because Charlie has got a girlfriend so...
Oh, has he?
Putting a feed out, he'll be protective of the food and of her, so we should get something.
Because what tends to happen with Charlie's pride, or indeed with most of the Longleat prides,
and probably in the wild, as well, is that the male always gets first dibs at the best bits.
-He does, the lion's share as such.
And yeah, Charlie's no different.
He will try and get his best bit, and also look after her as well.
So if he's got a girlfriend - who is the girlfriend? Who's the lucky lady?
-Oh. Skye. OK. Well, she's very beautiful.
-She is, yeah.
So, what will he do? Will he take a bit for her as well,
or will he just kind of let her in before the others?
We're going to stake 'em down well so that they don't run off with 'em.
-Yes. So that we can get the best view possible...?
-Wherever we can.
-I should imagine he would let her get in there first and just keep an eye on her.
-Even though there's no other males in this section, he will keep the females away from her as well.
-It'll be an interesting night.
Well, join us a little later to find out just how chivalrous Charlie is,
and whether the lions really do like to feed at night. See you in a bit.
This is the cane toad,
a poisonous beast with a voracious appetite to compete with the lions.
Originating from North and South America, its reputation as a big eater
gave farmers an idea -
get them to eat a nasty beetle that was destroying their crops.
So some bright spark took a few to Australia,
and they were growing sugar cane, and there was a bug called a cane beetle, and they thought,
"Let's introduce something that'll eat the cane beetle"
and so they bred them and let them go.
This species has taken huge swathes of Australia by storm
and it's probably not eaten many cane beetles in its life, but it eats everything else that moves.
They were introduced to Australia in the 1930s and, 70 years later,
rather than helping the eco-system, they're destroying it.
Many native species, including birds and crocodiles, eat them
and are poisoned by toxins released from their skin.
And with ten toads for every human, the problem is not going away.
The other thing about cane toads is that they breed very well in the wild.
In captivity... Well, a lot of people don't want to breed them, but we,
as part of our education programme here,
we have to show the good and the bad, so we've had this idea of having a big display of cane toads,
of an invasive species and I want lots. I want to put people off their tea.
I want a vivarium full of cane toads swarming, eating everything in sight,
and I can say to people, especially the children, "Look! If you let things get out of control,
"if you meddle, this is what can happen."
So for education purposes, Darren has decided that the time has come to kick-start the breeding programme.
However, there's one minor problem.
I got Michael in as an unsexed animal, so we didn't know if it was a boy or a girl.
Over a period of time, we convinced ourselves it was a boy,
and looking back now, it was probably rather ignorant of us,
we were saying, "Right, it's Michael, it's a boy. Michael Caine - cane toad -
"got to be a boy." He looked like a boy,
and then, just recently, I've been looking at it
and thought, "I don't know if it is."
There was only one way to find out -
introduce Michael to a female toad and, hopefully, let nature take its course.
# I met a girl She was a frog princess... #
So I got another cane toad and, of course, when I got them together,
I suddenly thought, "I don't actually know if Michael is a boy and if the new one is a girl."
We called the new one Valerie. They get on great,
but now we're back to the age-old thing of, is it a boy, is it a girl?
So we've been looking at ways of telling them apart.
But this has only doubled the confusion.
The problem is, male and female cane toads are remarkably similar in appearance.
Darren has been doing some research, but he's still no nearer to reaching a conclusion.
Boys are a bit smaller than girls in the species but we had nothing to compare him with.
The other way is, boys have a dark throat pouch, supposedly, under here.
Again I think that was quite dark on Michael, so I figured, well, hey ho, he could be a boy.
So now that he's got Valerie to compare Mike to,
can he spot any differences and work out which one is the male?
Now, this is Valerie.
Come on, sweetheart. I'll just hold her by her...
Now, she's quite a bit smaller. Can see the difference?
But age difference might come into that. She's younger as well.
The throat pouch on her, I actually thought was darker than Michael's,
so instantly though, oh-oh, maybe Valerie is actually a little boy.
Either this one is definitely a boy, or they could both be girls,
and it never entered my mind that they could both be girls and this just be a young girl.
So, the plot thickens.
Is Mike really a Michelle?
Fortunately, though, there is one final way for Darren to work out the sexes of this rather ugly pairing.
To do this, he's going to need our help.
I've been told that boy cane toads croak quite loudly and girls don't croak,
so what we're going to do is, with the help of one of the crew here,
he's going to help us fit up a little sound machine in here,
and a camera, and see if we can hear any croaking,
and if we can, yet again, it will tell us at least one of these two IS a little boy.
If we don't hear croaking, then I'm going to lean towards we might have two girls here and no fella,
so we won't get many baby cane toads out of it.
But what I'll do is, I'll put her back and we'll set up the equipment and then we'll see
if this can point us in the right direction.
-Right, that's all set.
-If they croak, that will get it.
Stu, this will solve the international mystery. Thank you very much. Appreciate that.
We'll be back with Darren later
as he tries to solve the riddle of this croak-and-dagger plot once and for all.
It's been 17 years since the safari park had a baby rhino
but the keepers haven't given up as a few years ago,
three young rhino arrived from South Africa, and deputy head warden Ian Turner was extremely hopeful.
Well, it's got three new young rhinos - one male and two females -
perfect for breeding, so down the line, we should have two young ones.
Today, things are certainly looking promising.
The youngsters are now sexually mature
and the great news is that Injanu, the male, has been playing his part.
There's finally been some mating.
So Injanu's been doing the business but, so far, there's no concrete sign of a pregnancy.
I've joined head warden Keith Harris to find out more.
So, what's the issue with Merashi, then?
Well, she hasn't been coming into season, she hasn't been cycling properly,
and obviously, we want to try and look at see if we can find out a reason why.
-A while ago, she was left in the yard overnight with a bull.
-Now, as far as we were aware, she didn't do anything but...
-You are talking about mating here?
Yeah. She wasn't mated, but we're going to take a blood sample and send it off, just to make sure.
And is the cycling of a rhino the same as many other animals? I mean, is it monthly?
Monthly. I think it's 32 days, and, you know, they'll be mated and that's it.
The biggest problem that we know within the rhino population throughout Europe
is with these young rhinos, if they just keep coming into season,
they just what we call flatline - they just stop coming into season.
-Their reproductive system closes down.
So it's very important that we get animals of this age breeding.
'Duncan the vet is on hand to take the blood samples from Merashi's ear.'
You're going for the ear because it's the thinnest area, presumably, and the veins are nearest the top?
Well, it's just an area that we easily get a superficial vein, and that's...
-Just putting this rubber band round as a sort of tourniquet.
That'll just pool the blood in the veins.
So that's like a tourniquet you would put around your arm, if you were taking blood from a human?
Yeah, very similar, yeah. Just to try and raise a vein.
And remind me, Keith, what is the gestation period if she was pregnant now?
It's 15 to 18 months, so they tend to vary in between the two.
-That's a long time to carry a calf, isn't it?
-Yes, it is.
So we need her a bit closer, don't we?
I think she's going to go back to her nuts in a minute.
-Be careful of that horn.
-Have to be very careful of her horn.
-That's an occupational hazard. The horn is their main weapon.
-Even though she might not mean to.
-So you've got the needle in there?
Yeah, just letting it drip into the tube now.
That's about enough in that one.
Let's get her in that thing, I think.
'Merashi's becoming agitated, so for her and Duncan's protection,
'she's moved to a smaller holding cage.'
-Are you going to fill another one?
-I'm not sure what the lab that we'll check the pregnancy with takes,
so I'm just going to make sure I've got everything.
-I suppose you don't want to do this again.
She doesn't want us to do it again, either.
-I think we'll take it off her now.
-All right, mate.
-Do you want to?
-Yeah, I'll take it off her now.
-All right, girl.
-So we're going...?
-That's enough. If it's going to upset her there's no point in going on.
There we go, so that's the needle out.
-So we just have to get the tourniquet?
-And you're constantly keeping an eye on how she's reacting and...
-..basically making a decision accordingly?
Because we want to do this again in the future, it's no good
-really upsetting her now, so she's, you know, she's getting a little bit agitated, so that's enough.
-We'll leave her again.
-Duncan, a sigh of relief?
-Yeah, yeah. I just want to clean it up a bit.
Obviously, because the needle's there,
-just drip, drip, drip sort of thing.
-And there she goes.
-There she goes.
-Duncan, the process is that those are sent off to the lab, are they?
-Yeah, we'll send them off today.
And what sort of tests will you do?
We can do a general profile, make sure everything's OK in terms of haematology and biochemistry,
-but more importantly, we'll get this pregnancy check.
-Guys, thanks very much and well done
and we'll keep you posted on the progress throughout the series.
The great house is set amongst 900 acres of spectacular grounds.
In charge of its day-to-day running is land agent Tim Moore
but the design we see today
was drawn up 300 years ago by the man known as England's greatest gardener.
The design is by Capability Brown,
and so it's very much a sort of pastoral landscape
with sheep grazing and deer, with water, key elements either side of the house,
and what we've got here now is pretty well what Brown created.
But there's one area of the park's landscape that needs
a bit of sprucing up, and that's down by the model railway track.
A few years ago, I suggested to Lord Bath one way to get some interest
would be to have these enormous timber cut-outs of people who'd had a role at Longleat.
Lord Bath came up with the sort of the guest list.
That included the Grey Lady, who's the alleged ghost at Longleat,
Capability Brown, Lord Bath himself right at the end.
I think we've got a lion in there as well.
They were all short term, they were never going to stay all that long.
They've got a bit well worn, they've been seen by plenty of people, and were past their sell-by date.
So the challenge was, what will we replace them with?
So the gauntlet was thrown down to head of grounds and gardens Tommy Parker
to come up with something a bit special...
..and he took his inspiration from the park's smallest residents, the leaf-cutter ants.
They may be tiny, but their bodies are amazingly powerful,
able to carry pieces of leaf that weigh at least 20 times their own weight.
That's the same as a human carrying a one-ton load.
To help him build his army of ants, Tommy turned to artist Alan Ross.
Started off tinkering with bits of bicycle components like these,
and that was fine for a while, and things started getting bigger.
I started using bigger bits of material, and it's grown from there.
This is the original model that Alan came up with
and it's very much changed, because he built this in about two hours because he was so excited about it.
Alan had certainly never done anything quite on this scale before.
I looked at loads of pictures of ants on the internet and books, I've read books about ants,
and I figured if I could just get the basic essence of what an ant is
and expand that to four-and-a-half metres long, it would do the job.
It's not just somebody's private collection.
This is now for the public to see, and we'll have 20,000 people a day looking at it. That IS exciting!
We'll be following the story as these terrifying creatures take shape.
As the park closes and the sun sets,
most of the animals are getting ready for bed,
but for others, this is when they start stirring.
It's about ten o'clock at night and I'm standing outside the lion house with keeper Bob Trollope.
In my hand I've got a little infrared camera,
and our cameraman is also using an infrared camera
so that you can see me and Bob in the dark and, um what's our plan, Bob?
We're going to go in and see what they're like.
Because it's pitch black, there's no lights in there whatsoever.
-Presumably this is not something you do on a very regular basis?
-No, we're not allowed in there at night.
-Because it is dangerous.
-Why are we going in?!
-It's all part of enrichment...for us and them.
-Right, yes, I think it is.
-The door's over here, so, do you want to lead ahead?
-I'm going to use this camera.
Basically, the plan is, I'm going to use this camera to help Bob and I actually see what the lions are doing
because, as he said, it is absolutely pitch dark in here,
and there is no way we'll be able to see them.
-Now, who have we got in here, Bob?
-This is Charlie's pride.
-OK. Bob, look, can you see the screen in here?
Presumably, they're going to be quite intrigued
about why people are here in the middle of the night?
Yeah. They're going to be very curious because this is something totally strange to them.
-Hear that great noise.
-It's amazing how well the infrared picks up these animals.
Now, just in case you are thinking, "Oh, it's not really that dark in here.
'It's very bright." Well, these are very clever little cameras,
so I'm just going to shut mine off,
and ask the crew to turn the infrared light off,
and there, now you can see it really is dark in here, isn't it, Bob?
You're aware of shapes moving but there is no way you could pick out
-whether it's Charlie or one of the females moving past you, could you?
-Yeah, that's right.
While Kate and Bob prepare for the big feed, we're going back in time
to bring you a spine-chilling story from the Animal Park Tales.
A lot's gone on at Longleat over the last four-and-a-half centuries.
Conspiracies have been hatched in these corridors of power,
tragedies have unfolded, murders perhaps.
Many believe that kind of history can soak into the very stones and fabric of the building itself
so that sometimes, in the dark of the moon, things go bump in the night.
In fact, it's said that seven restless spirits still linger in these ancient walls.
A few years ago, head cleaner June Winders and a colleague recall a close encounter with one of them.
It was in the old staff quarters at the top of the house.
We both walked in with our equipment to start,
and it was like walking into a freezer, it was that cold,
and we both started shivering and all the hairs on the backs of our necks stood on end
and we both turned at the same time to get out the door and we got stuck!
But we got out of there and we swore we'd never, ever go in there again,
and to this day, I haven't.
I get my girls to go in there but I don't go in.
When June enquired, she found out that, 100 years ago, there was a tragic death.
A parlour maid or a housemaid that worked when the house was a family home
got herself into a spot of bother with a footman and... because in those days
it was a disgrace and, unfortunately, she threw herself off the top of the house.
So very sad story
but she's still here.
The parlour maid isn't the only phantom supposedly trapped in a room.
Some believe that the Red Library has its very own ghost
but nobody told Pip Percival when she started working here as a house guide.
I was walking from the ante library here through to the dining room,
and as I walked through the Red Library, something moved in that chair down there
and I couldn't tell you what it was,
I couldn't tell you if it was a man or what it was,
but something moved, and I walked through to the dining room,
and Vivienne, who had been here a long time, I said, "Something moved in that chair,"
knowing it was beyond the alarm, and she said, "Oh, yes, you are lucky. That was the Man In Black."
They call him the Man In Black because no-one knows his name.
House steward Ken Winders, now retired, was always a pretty down to earth sort...
until the day he believed he encountered a spirit from the other side.
There was just myself and one other person in the house,
house totally locked down, we were actually in this room polishing these wooden floors.
We happened to look round and there was a lady down in the breakfast passage...
30 to 40 yards away,
and we simply thought, in the first instance,
how the devil did she get in, to begin with, and who is it?
But looking closely, she looked like Lady Silvy, which was the then Marquess of Bath's daughter,
Lord Henry's daughter,
so obviously we stopped polishing, and it took both of us,
it wasn't just me, there was two of us, to see this woman,
and we went down to see if we could be of some assistance,
because we thought it was Lady Silvy,
and when we got down there, there was absolutely nobody in that room whatsoever.
I know for a fact all the doors were locked, so nobody could even have crept in, even unbeknown to us,
but I have never yet to this day found a logical explanation for that one.
Lady Silvy is a very beautiful woman in her own right, and I have had people say to me that she looks
very similar to Louisa Carteret, who is the ghost of Longleat that walks the top passages.
Lord Bath hasn't seen any of the ghosts himself but he grew up with tales about the Grey Lady.
The Grey Lady is Louisa Carteret, who married the second viscount,
and this is around the turn of the 18th century, beginning. Queen Anne times.
She arrived at Longleat to marry the second viscount
with someone who might be described as a very faithful servant or footman or groom,
and it was her habit to spend much of her time with him,
which caused a great deal of jealousy in the rest of the household.
I am supposing that they came to the second viscount and said,
he's this awful person and, I don't know, perhaps the second viscount said, "Get rid of him!",
possibly meaning just throw him out of the house,
but something happened worse than that.
He was probably thrown down those stairs there, and his neck was broken.
They probably told her that he'd just packed his bags and gone, and she didn't believe that,
so the ghost story arises then that she spent the rest of her days at Longleat,
always searching all the rooms up in the top passage
to find if he was imprisoned there, or whatever she might find.
And there is a sequel to all that.
When we put in the boilers for the central-heating system earlier in this century,
a body was found, and it was a body wearing Queen Anne clothes.
There wasn't much of it left. It was so crumbled away it was put in a hat box, I was told,
and that was buried in the graveyard of the church.
It's infuriating that some of my guests claim to have seen her.
I don't want to have to fear that I'm going to meet a ghost,
but anyway, as she's my grandma or my great-great-great-great-grandma, I am sure that we will get on fine.
But I wish people wouldn't start claiming to have seen her
in a way that worries me a bit sometimes.
It's strange that while some people see ghosts others never do.
Perhaps that's another mystery beyond our knowledge... like the spirits themselves.
Now it's back over to the lion enclosure
because Charlie and his girls are about to get a midnight feast.
Earlier, Bob Trollope and I were in the lion enclosure looking at
well what looked really like a mass of cables and equipment.
What we've done is set up infrared cameras and infrared lights
because tonight the lions are being fed after dark.
We have now stuck out the meat for them
so their feed but, um whole carcasses, Bob, rather than chunks?
Yeah, we've placed two half-carcasses together
and staked them down to sort of simulate a whole carcass basically.
Right, so should we, they're down in the house still,
Brian's with them, is that right?
-He's there, yeah.
-So can we radio Brian and let them out and see...
OK, we can do that.
Line two, Brian.
-Everyone is in vehicles and it's safe to let them out.
The big cats are not often let out at night
as after dark they're much less predictable and more dangerous.
Lions have a very strict pride structure which is best demonstrated when hunting and feeding.
The females do most of the work during the hunt
but the male takes charge when it's time to eat.
Fights often break out at this point
as it's when dominance issues are resolved.
This is natural and helps maintain a healthy pride structure.
In Charlie's pride, Sky is currently in season so he's mating with her
and she'll probably get preferential treatment so there could well be
a bit of fur flying tonight but it's all natural behaviour.
-Oh, here's one, here's one.
-Here's one, yeah.
-Female. Who's this coming in?
-That looks like Aysha.
Yeah, straight in to that.
In fact, three females.
Now where's Charlie? Is he letting them do all the work, is he?
-No, he's just come up.
-Oh, here he comes.
He's come up to the carcass now.
-Oh, this looks fantastic.
-That's four of them.
And straight in. GROWLING
-Oops, a big of argy bargy.
There's another one in the background. There she comes.
Oh, now Charlie's trying, as you predicted, to pull the carcass away.
This is really interesting because we never get to see them eat like this.
Charlie! He isn't chivalrous.
We did ask that earlier and I think he's answered the question already.
So who's his girlfriend at the moment? You thought it was Sky.
-Sky. Most probably the one that's eating opposite.
So he is, he's really having a go at the other females, isn't he?
And it is, it's all lovey dovey when he goes back to her.
-He won't want to offend her obviously...
-No, obviously not.
Because he wants her.
Sky is looking quite literally like the cat that's got the cream,
or the carcass, at the moment.
You can see how she really uses all the teeth, you know,
front teeth, back molars, tongue, it is amazing.
As you say though, it could be a wild pride.
It could, it really could.
-Apart from perhaps the oak tree in the background gives it away.
Isn't it funny? Look at all these females lying patiently,
just going, "OK, we'll let Charlie and the favoured one."
Now this is a pride that...
doesn't have cubs.
No. Charlie is vasectomised...
SNARLING Ooh, ooh...
..someone dared to go in.
-Took a chance there. Oh, look.
-Quite a big scrap.
You know it's more intimidation than anything.
They're going to get a show,
there's two half-carcasses there so there's plenty to eat.
Oh, even if... Oh, something is chased off into the dark.
That was quite dramatic, suddenly he's left the carcass -
so he was obviously furious.
Yeah, they do have a hierarchy and you can see that,
-Sky is obviously...
-Oh, that's the power all right again.
He's having the meat now, he's gone back to his meat.
He's gone back for some more.
Those females are fairly feisty though, aren't they?
-Oh, if they ganged up together they could sort him out.
He's obviously quite an intimidating sight.
It's quite funny, as soon as he chases off someone
the other two are like, "we'll sneak in for a quick mouthful".
I think a lot of it is more noise than anything, it is intimidation.
Like a lot of blokes, isn't it? Make a lot of noise.
Oh, there he goes again.
Now does this worry you if one of the females did get injured?
It obviously does but,
they're giving back as good as they're getting,
and you do get cuts from time to time,
and we've got a very good veterinary...
They've come right up to the fence here, can we tilt the camera down?
-We're getting it on this camera.
They are metres away - not even - probably a metre away from the car!
You can see a bit of Charlie there.
-Got Charlie, right by the fence.
-His girlfriend's down here, that's why.
-Oh, is that what it is?
By feeding them in this way,
you're not putting any of them into adverse risk?
No, no, no. During the day when we feed you do have little scraps
-like that but that's all part of their hierarchy.
You know, if they didn't do that,
-there would be no character to them.
It's all calmed down now. He's a bit grumpy but...
-..he's still got his girlfriend.
So will they stay out for the rest of the night now? Will you leave them?
Yeah. Their house is open for them, if they want to go in they can.
If not, they'll stay out here.
Another little scrap going on.
Charlie! Behave yourself.
-He's just showing off.
-He is. As you say, none of the females
he's going for really look that concerned.
-It looks more like play fighting, than any serious intent.
-He's just gone off into the shadows.
If we can go right I don't know whether our lights can pick up,
can pick him up. Do you think that's it?
Well, that, I mean, for me that was an absolutely fantastic experience.
-Are you pleased that that's gone well?
It shows all the characteristics of a wild pride -
and ultimately that is what we try to get here.
We don't interfere too much and hopefully they live as natural
a life as you can give them.
Well, I think we are going to leave the lions to their midnight feast
but, Bob, if you don't mind,
can we come back in the morning, in the light of day,
and see just how much of these carcasses are left?
-What's your bet?
-Do you think?
-Just a few bones, yeah.
OK, well, let's see if Bob is right.
Join us a bit later when we'll find out how well the pride fed
in the middle of the night.
As another day dawns at the park here's what's coming up
on the rest of the show.
Darren discovers if anything went "croak" in the night.
And Ben helps put a bit more bounce into the lives of the vultures.
Let's head straight over to the reptile house where Darren's been
attempting to solve a puzzling mystery,
to discover the gender of his rather revolting cane toads -
Mike and Valerie.
That might sound simple enough
but actually sexing a cane toad is remarkably difficult.
He's hoping the pair will reproduce but unless he's got one male and one
female his breeding programme is unlikely to get off the ground.
The most sure-fire way of telling them apart is that
it's only the male who croaks.
So last night Darren set up some recording equipment to eavesdrop
on their night time activity and listen out for any telltale noises.
This is really interesting actually.
It's like a sneaky insight
into what goes on in the exhibit at night.
They're quite active.
This is quite nice, they're both sat next to each other.
I can see the throat pouches moving, can't hear any noise at the moment.
Oh, I spotted something, what is he doing?
I'm going to rewind that.
He spotted something nice to eat.
Bam! Oh, dear, goodness, that was definitely a little feast there.
Bit of activity here. I can hear that jumping very clearly
on these, I haven't actually heard any croaking at the moment.
What I was hoping, was that I would hear...
a loud, you know, a toad croak.
So far there's a lot of shuffling but absolutely no croaking.
-The thing is I've got... Oh!
At last there's a noise.
Could this be the croak that Darren's been desperate to hear?
Sounds like a grandfather clock.
That's not a croak, is it?
Ah, now, there you are, I can hear that again.
It goes tick, tick, tick.
It's getting faster.
That is the thermostat, there is a thermostat in there on the wall
and obviously it's just reaching temperature,
that's what I can hear there.
Ah, well, I thought that was going to be a croak but it's not a croak,
that's not a croak.
And look at, there's no behaviour going on here, there's no
extended throat pouches, there's no raising up on their...
Yeah, that's power,
that's the heater coming on and raising the temperature.
Never mind! Let me stop that.
Unfortunately for Darren the ticking of the thermostat
was the closest he came to hearing a croak in the night.
It may not be the outcome that he was after but at least
it confirms his suspicions.
I don't know, I think,
taking everything into consideration
I think I'm leaning towards - they're both girls.
That won't help our breeding of an increased number of cane toads
over next couple the years so I think I'll do a bit more research,
and see if I can find and track down someone who's got a 100%
verified male, have a comparison with a couple of photographs
and then put out the feelers and see if we can't find a male.
So, interesting for me as a keeper but research-wise,
no croaks, no boys.
Of course there is another positive side to all this,
nine hours of no croaking but we know the thermostat is working.
Back now to the park's impending invasion by an army of giant ants.
Head of gardens and grounds Tommy Parker has
asked artist Alan Ross to make seven giant sculptures of leafcutter ants.
He has come down to Alan's workshop to see how he's getting along.
-Hi Tommy, how's things?
-Not too bad.
-How are we getting on then?
This is fine, this is leaf number four I think it is.
-So have we got an ETA for getting done?
-Should be a couple of weeks.
-Can we have a look at the one's you've completed?
-I'll just get my hat.
So far all Tommy's seen is a small prototype of one ant,
just a fraction of the size of the finished article.
Oh, wow, they're looking good,
absolutely fantastic. Just what I wanted.
Oh, we going to get some fantastic reactions from the public.
I think people will appreciate this.
-Yeah. They're really good.
-They move with the wind.
Which should give them life when they're in the field which is nice.
I mean, we get six of these and the big soldier ant will look fantastic.
I mean he looks awesome. He really does.
-Yeah, he doesn't look too bad.
-He really does.
The only thing is the position I want to put this one,
I want it to look more aggressive as if it's attacking a nest.
-Right so if we could maybe do something with the legs.
You grab that leg I'll show you exactly what I want.
OK, so where do we want it then?
If we could lift it up so it's probably more up like that.
-About like that?
-I can modify the front legs.
-We could get the head up a bit.
-I can do that.
Looking down at the train.
This'll look at the train so it'll get a good reaction from the public.
They are fantastic, I just can't wait to get them on site.
Wait and see what happens when Longleat finally experiences
the attack of the ants.
They soar through the sky in search of death.
These are the African white-backed vultures,
a huge bird that preys on rotting flesh.
In the wild vultures like these spend most of their time in the air
but here at Longleat they spend most of it perching like these ones
which can sometimes lead to pressure sores on the feet.
But keeper Mark here has tried to come up with a way of avoiding this.
What have you come up with Mark?
Well, initially we had a problem attaching branches to trees
because obviously straight branch, round tree was all a bit complicated,
they didn't stay up very well.
This is an entirely man-made aviary here so it's just the posts.
Yes, all these were stuck in the ground.
So I asked Tim the welder if he could come up with something just to attach
a branch and we got a bit carried away along the line,
and came up with this contraption here.
What on earth is this?
Well, this was originally just the bracket to hold it to the tree,
but then from there we decided
perhaps it would be quite nice if we could build an amount of springing
into the branch so it would act more like a branch on a normal tree.
So we've used a section of leaf-spring off the back of a truck
so that it would allow an amount of flex in there.
So basically, when the birds land on it it will kind of flex up
and down and it acts like a spring for their legs and feet.
Yeah, just as if they were landing on a normal branch.
So we have to get it up on the tree and see how it works.
OK. Well, at this point you'll probably notice there
isn't quite enough room for all of you guys, the crew as well,
so you're going to have to watch this on Ben cam.
-I will help you and film proceedings, if that's OK?
Wish me luck. So we've now kind of got to come in...
Come in against a tree here.
..a little bit. I'm assuming it's somewhere around here that
we're going to want to put this up.
Yeah, this is where we're going to attach our...
I think it's that one.
And just tell me, how...
dangerous are these pressure sores that the vultures tend to get?
It can cause big problems on the soles of their feet
and they can swell up, become infected,
and this is why we've had to come up with this idea.
If this works we can then go ahead and build
quite a few more and put a lot more perches in different places.
So what do you think will be their reaction to this new contraption?
Knowing vultures, they probably won't go anywhere near it!
Vultures have very keen eyesight and on the open plains they can spot
a metre-long carcass from four miles away.
So are we now just missing a branch?
We're missing a branch. I'm going to take some of this slack out of it.
-It feels like the weight's taken, shall I take my hands off, ready?
-Look at that.
So, as soon as they land on it you've got that springiness.
There's a little bit of give in it.
That is very clever, I'm really impressed with that.
So, with us well out of the way, it wasn't long before we got a
bird's eye view of the vultures enjoying a lighter landing.
It's morning after the night before and, Bob, they look like...
we've got some very sleepy, very well-fed lions.
Yes, they're at their best.
Now, of course, just to recap,
last night Bob fed the lions in the middle of the night.
It was quite exciting, wasn't it, Bob?
-It was all go, wasn't it?
-I really was all go.
Charlie really displayed a) the fact that he's probably
the greediest lion in the pride and also that he is very, very much
in love with his girlfriend now
and wanted to keep all the other girls off the meat.
Yeah, it was quite evident, wasn't it? It was really good stuff.
It really was and this to me is the epitome of a happy lion scene.
They are all very, very contented. They're all fine.
As you can see they're all well-fed and just sleeping it off.
Does that mean that we are safe
and we could wander up and tickle one under the chin?
-No, no, they're not fully asleep.
-They have one eye open.
And obviously they're quite dangerous.
We've got Adam guarding down there and I'm reasonably confident
we could get in there before they get over here.
Well, I'd hope so because if you look over here,
-this is the slightly sorry remains of a large carcass, Bob.
I mean, there was a lot of meat down there and they really have,
-well, reduced it to nothing more than a few bones.
Interesting that we can see bits of the carcass spread around
so they obviously did do...
the same that they do when you throw them out chunks of meat,
they do go off on their own, take chunks off on their own.
They've pulled off bits and then gone off and fed on their own
and you can also see there's a bit of mane down here from Charlie's...
Oh, yes, look at this.
So he obviously got a bit of a beating as much as...
-the female was getting.
Gosh it's beautiful, beautiful hair actually.
It's very fine. You'd think it would be much coarser.
-I'd love to have hair that long.
Well, here you are Bob, we can organise that.
Now, in the wild, presumably lions would eat the bones as well?
They'd crunch them up. Nature has a way of finishing everything off.
If the lions had their fill something else comes over.
Right, jackals or...
Jackals and vultures and all sorts and then insects,
so there wouldn't be an awful lot left.
Will you leave this for them to pick at throughout the day?
-Do you think they will return to this?
-Oh, yeah they'll come back.
They're having a siesta now and also little birds come down there and...
-And peck away at it.
-..pick bits off and they've obviously got nests.
And just looking, it's a bit gory, sorry, everybody,
but I think it is worth having a quick look at this, just how
efficiently they have managed to clean off the meat from the bones.
Yeah, it's incredible.
They will use their tongue as much as their teeth and
they grab the meat and pull as much as they can off.
-And what they can't do with their teeth they lick.
And this time tomorrow this will be as clean as anything.
That will be completely clean.
Well, what a happy pride of lions and it was an amazing experience, Bob.
Thank you very, very much indeed for allowing us,
as I say, to set up all our cameras and get
those fantastic shots and I think we might just leave them to sleep off...
-..their big meal and perhaps pop back into the car,
because as you say, a lion never sleeps properly.
Deep in the heart of the Wiltshire countryside
Longleat stands on the brink of an invasion.
Standing four and a half metres high, five metres long and
500 times larger than in real life,
these are surely the biggest beasts the park has ever seen.
As the army is assembled,
how will the rest of the park's residents cope with the invasion?
They've gone together as they should do, there's no big problems,
no bits gone missing.
It's a relief to see them all up and finished,
standing together in a field at Longleat is a huge relief.
With these ants installed, Ben's gone to find out more
about the minute monsters they were modelled on.
Pets Corner has its very own queen
but this one doesn't have a crown but a very powerful set of jaws.
It is, of course, a leafcutter ant and Kim Tucker here, you're one of
the keepers for the many, many thousands of ants you've got here.
-She has many loyal servants, doesn't she?
She has an awful lot, yeah.
The maturity of the colony can be anything up to about five million.
This is where they all live. I don't know if the camera can see,
but you have to stare for a while and then you start noticing
a very busy little area really.
This is the feeding station so this is where they come to pick food up.
OK, I'm assuming that's what I've got in my hand here then, feed.
Yes, hawthorn is one of their favourite foods,
-it's a light leaf so easy to carry back.
-OK, how do we get this in?
-We'll come through this door.
-OK. I have never been in here before.
-Well, this is off-show so...
Just pop the food into the holes.
It means they can come and grab it.
I don't really want these ants all over me.
No. They can give a nasty bite when they want to.
They've got quite large pincers at the front for cutting the leaves,
if they do catch your fingers or any part of your skin,
-it can hurt quite a lot.
-Have you been bitten?
Only by the little ants thankfully,
not by the large soldier ants that we're looking for today.
Now I can only see a handful of ants really in there, so where
are the many thousands of others that look after this queen,
and where's the queen?
All that goes on in the tank behind the feeding station,
so if we go and have a look at that now.
-If I shut this door.
That's hidden away, which these pipes aren't. What are they for?
The pipes are for them to go quite a way to look for the food
and take it back to the nest because out in the wild
they travel quite a way sometimes to find the food,
-so it replicates what they would normally do.
Also it gives people a chance to actually watch what they're doing.
-And see these very busy creatures.
-And this is their tank.
This is their tank up here, this is where they all live.
-It's a bit of a squeeze in here.
-It is very much so.
So you're all going to have to go onto Ben cam for a minute.
So this is, where are they?
Oh, you can see a few but I can just see lots of soil.
-Yep, well if you look in over the top...
..you should be able to see them moving around.
-It's off-show because you can't see a lot going on in there.
But down in the middle, obviously right in the middle, is the queen.
Right. And how big is the queen?
She can... This colony is only 14 months old so she's not very big
-now but she can become the size of a small field mouse.
-The size of a field mouse?
That's like something from a horror film.
It does sound like it, doesn't it?
-And all the other ants are loyal to her.
They're cutting all that food for her, are they?
And the rest of the colony as they all need to be fed in order to work.
-Is there a very strict hierarchy, is there a class system?
-There is, yes.
The queen is at the top and then all the eggs that she lays
-technically are workers.
-So the bigger ones that hatch are the soldier ants.
-They can get to about 1.2 centimetres.
-So they're quite large.
-Can we see any?
-That is what we're looking for today.
How will we see the soldiers then?
It sounds really awful but we're going to threaten them a little bit.
-How do we do that, do we RRRRargh!
-No, they don't go on sound,
so we'll...if I pick it up from down here we've got some spider skins.
Oh, my god, I want to scream.
These are from our Chilean rose tarantulas.
-These aren't real, are they?
-No, well, they used to be.
They are real but not alive.
-This is the moulted skin so there's no actual spider in it.
We'll place that in the top of the tank, hopefully get a reaction.
This would be a natural predator in the wild?
-So would a spider like this eat the ants?
Possibly not eat them but obviously pose a threat to moving the soil
around on the top and all that sort of stuff.
Right, OK. I'd volunteer to put that in but I'm not going to today.
-That's quite all right, I shall do the honours.
-You can do that.
-Pop that into the top of the tank and that will illicit a response.
What the soldiers do is that when there is a danger or they need to
warn the other ants about anything they will secrete a certain type of
pheromone, so a different smell
that will alert the rest of the ants up to help come and protect.
As their colony isn't under threat
all the time she might not produce many soldier ants.
-Because she produces the ants
that she needs to keep the colony working at the right level.
-So, no threat for the last 14 months...
..not so many soldiers possibly.
Who knows. Hopefully she's got soldiers in there
she keeps going all the time in case she's got a threat.
Fantastic. Kim, thank you very much for enlightening me...
-That's all right.
-..on the whole world of leafcutter ants.
-Indeed. Thank you very much.
Earlier we were at the rhino house with one of the young girls, Marashi.
Well, we're back with the rhinos but this time we're seeing
the old boy of the group, Winston, as he gets ready for bed.
-How's he getting on Kevin?
-He's doing very well now.
We had a bit of a rough spell over the winter,
his skin went a little bit iffy,
very rough and it started to die off but we've used a lot of mud on him
and that's brought his skin back to life and he's looking really good.
Remind us how old Winston is now.
He's 39 this year which is very old for a rhino.
And obviously tucking in to his pre-bedtime snack.
What have you got in the bucket here?
These are high fibre cubes which the rhinos particularly enjoy it.
-Can we put some in?
-Go for it.
You put them on the ground and he hoovers them up?
Yes, exactly. Just like that.
Now that we've got this wonderful view of him Kevin, he's a white
rhino but white actually doesn't refer to the colour, is that right?
That's right. It refers to the shape of the lips.
-The white rhinos have a very square lip, almost brick-like.
A black rhino has a prehensile lip on the top, like a little hook.
And they'll browse the trees more than the whites do.
So they would pull at bushes and things like that rather than grazing.
That's right, yeah. It's amazing watching them, isn't it?
They do look like dinosaurs.
They are so prehistoric-looking.
Oh, Kevin, it's great to see him looking so well and congratulations
on bringing him back to such good health.
Absolutely, and sadly that's all we've got time for on
today's programme but here's what's coming up on the next Animal Park.
Darren teaches Ben a thing or two about how to pick up a bird.
Never done turkey wrangling before.
There's an imposter in the flamingo enclosure.
And Lord Bath's pride and joy
goes on a hot date with Dandy the labradoodle.
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