Behind the scenes at Longleat Safari Park. Ben Fogle attempts to get near two of the park's most dangerous animals, while Kate Humble catches up with one of the oldest.
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Half Mile Lake is home to two of the world's most dangerous creatures,
Ugandan hippos, and we've never been able to see them up close.
But today all that is going to change because we're going to try
and get a camera closer to the hippos than we've ever done before.
The big question is, will the camera make it out in one piece?
Coming up on Animal Park:
Two spiders got on.
He's doing it, he's doing it!
But is she pregnant?
Our attempt to get close to the hippos doesn't exactly go to plan.
It's a long way out.
Oh, dear. There is a pile of logs which has broken down.
And we look back to the terrible day
that almost every animal faced being destroyed,
thanks to a relentless disease closing in on the estate.
There are more than 90 species living at the safari park
and over the years we've got close to all of them.
The Ugandan hippos are two of
the largest and most unapproachable girls you could ever hope to meet.
Spot and Sonia arrived at the safari park in 1976
and no-one has ever really got close since. And for good reason.
They have tusks like carving knives,
run as fast as an Olympic sprinter
and weigh in at two and a half tons,
making them far and away the most dangerous animals at the park
but also in Africa.
More people are killed by hippos here than any other animal,
mostly being attacked by getting in the way of them
and their favourite place, water.
For such huge animals, they're incredibly agile
and are able to hold their breath for up to seven minutes
before returning to the surface.
Spot and Sonia are usually
in the water, making them even more unapproachable.
But earlier in this series
their keeper Mark Tye needed to get a close-up view of Sonia
when she got a large piece of rubber matting caught on her tusk.
How on earth are you going to do anything about that?
Er...we're not, unfortunately.
Right. Could you not sedate her here?
Not in the water, no. And even if she was out in the field,
if we darted her, the first thing she would do is run to the water.
-It would be a big problem.
-What a problem.
Thankfully, the rubber mat came off.
But a way of getting close to the hippos was required.
Raftcam is a cutting-edge radio-controlled vessel
that we can mount cameras on, allowing Mark a greater opportunity
to get closer to the hippos in the water than ever before.
One of the things with the hippos is we don't get to see them
very closely this time of year because they literally spend
most of their time, probably 99% of their time, in the water.
And most of that time they're sort of submerged.
If anything, you just see nostrils, eyes, and that's about it.
So we're getting this raft-cum-camera in
and see if we can get some nice close-up shots of them in the water.
I don't know quite how they'll react to it but it'll be interesting.
They'll probably do one of two things,
run away from it or attack it.
And if it can't get out the way
quick enough, it's going to get munched, I would imagine.
So it's going to be a case of trial and error.
Put it in the water, see how it moves
and then see if we can get it anywhere near a hippo.
One person who certainly doesn't want to see Raftcam get munched
is its designer, and top engineer from Cranfield University,
Dr Kim Blackburn.
The whole idea of this raft was to be able to sneak up on the hippos.
They're easily spooked animals, or so we're told.
So we're trying to just appear like something they're used to.
So the key thing is to get it low in the water and to get it really quiet
so we can sneak up on them and get some nice close shots.
So, what will Mark make of Raftcam?
You've got two motors on the sides
and we've got separate forwards and backwards control on each one.
So the idea is, both forwards and you go forwards, both backwards
and you go backwards.
As Mark has no idea how the hippos will react to the raft,
its maiden voyage will be made
without our expensive camera equipment on board.
I like that. That's great.
You see what I mean? There's nothing to see, just some wood in the water.
Yeah, it's really unobtrusive.
The swans weren't bothered.
So it'd be interesting to see exactly how
the other animals react to it.
-Well, we've got a hippo coming over there.
-Ooh, I can just see two ears.
Would it be worth whizzing over there a bit closer?
Definitely. I'll just back it out of here.
-Right, I think you'd probably best have a go, then. All yours.
Like a dream.
Slow but steady.
Sonia submerges, but suddenly something goes horribly wrong.
-It's a long way out.
That was a wisp of smoke, wasn't it? I blame the driver.
There's clearly a problem. It does happen in the middle of the lake!
-We may need a bit of help from the boat.
-We may do, yes.
13 line seven boats.
There is a... pile of logs which has broken down.
Is there any chance of being able to guide it over towards the beach?
Any ideas what could be wrong?
I don't know. It's a number of possible things.
-The obvious thing will just be a piece of wire.
Something more serious.
-Thank you very much.
We'll try and not do that again.
-Well, I think you can see which side cooked.
We've clearly got a problem with the electronics in that side.
You can see it's burnt.
Something may have caught round the prop and that's seized.
See, the back bearing in the motor has actually melted.
So, something's cooked it.
I think it's probably just too much pedal to the metal.
Yeah, normal problem.
We'll be back, we'll be back.
It was really good, apart from I broke it.
Hopefully Kim can get it fixed pretty quickly, that's the plan,
and then we can get back on the water and away we go again.
The park's rhesus macaque monkeys
are believed to share over 90% of their DNA with us
and, in some respects, they are pretty similar.
But, whereas we tend to have three square meals a day,
for a monkey, it seems every single waking hour is spent eating.
With over 70 monkeys, this also means that almost every single hour
of keeper Kevin Nibbs's day is spent preparing something for them to eat.
These are called primate pellets.
And that's got all the vitamins and minerals that they need.
-So there are special pellets made for primates?
They're called primate pellets. So that's what these are.
We've also got dog biscuits, and these are good for their teeth.
They chew on these. They've got big canine teeth, the monkeys,
so they chew on these and keep them sharp and clean.
And also in this bucket somewhere, we've got some maize, whole maize.
And this is just a filler, really,
it fills their tummies up for the rest of the day.
Right, so this is a perfect feast
-for your...75 monkeys, roughly?
-Give or take a few, cos I've seen a couple of little babies.
They're all on the cars now, which is obviously part and parcel
of what goes on here. What's this about, then?
Today, we've got this feeding pipe, and what we've done,
it's just a normal drainpipe and we've put a few holes in the top.
What we'll do, we'll put some food in the pipe and, in theory,
the monkeys put their hands through the holes and pull it out the top.
-Shall I just pour?
-Yep. I'll try to stop any falling on the floor.
It's a bit of an art form, this is.
We can put this anywhere, just on these logs here.
As long as the holes are facing up, what they'll do is jump on top
and help themselves to it.
I'll let you do the proper placing there.
There are obviously a lot of cars out today, quite busy.
Do you think that they'll give up the cars for this?
I reckon they will. Anything for food, I think they'll do it.
So you might find they jump on a car, travel around,
and when they get to here jump off.
It'll be like a taxi for them.
A taxi straight to their food.
There have been a few times over the last five centuries
when the Longleat Estate has very nearly become just history.
In 1567, the old house burnt to the ground.
Back in the mid-1700s, the second Viscount Weymouth
came close to bankrupting the place.
And then, in 2001, a different kind of disaster threatened to
wipe out the safari park and almost all the animals in it.
When spring arrived in 2001,
the country lay gripped by a terrible disease.
The epidemic of foot and mouth was spreading like wildfire.
The only way to stop it seemed to be by taking extreme measures,
so wherever it broke out
all susceptible animals in the vicinity had to be destroyed.
On the 2nd March 2001, the disease struck
just 15 kilometres from Longleat.
Estate manager Tim Moore had to take immediate action.
This morning, we were faced with the reality of knowing
there is a confirmed outbreak of foot and mouth disease at Melksham.
So what we've had to do is to decide,
do we stay open or do we close? We have closed, basically.
We've shut the whole of the park, which is 1,000 acres. We've locked
the gates apart from two controlled entry points, which we're staffing.
And we've had to say, "Sorry, no access," except to those who have to come here
to look after the animals or carry out key services as staff.
Nobody else unless it's for some really essential business.
With the whole future of the safari park under threat,
the estate gave our film crew permission
to stay and document what happened.
At the time, there were elephants at the park
and even they could contract this terrible disease.
Head warden Keith Harris had a grim list of other species
that were also at risk.
There is probably between 70% and 80% of our animals that would be
susceptible to foot-and-mouth, everything from the giraffes
in the background to deer running on the park, our antelope,
Pere David deer, which is an endangered species,
Ankole cattle, buffalo.
So a wide range of species that it's going to affect if it did get here.
A large proportion of these animals would have to be destroyed.
It'd be catastrophic.
The safari park is why people come here. It's what we're all about.
So, of 400,000 visitors, 80% come here to see a safari park.
If we get an infection, we would lose over half the animals
in the safari park through slaughter
and we could lose an entire year's turnover of the business.
There's a number of ways it can be spread.
One is by people, who can carry it.
Vehicles can carry it. But I think one of the main worries is that
it can be wind-blown, which means it can quite literally
travel in the air, which nobody can legislate.
We've got our precautions down to stop people and vehicles carrying it
into the park, but it can actually fly across all boundaries.
So that is probably the more worrying part about this disease.
At the safari park's only remaining entrance gate,
deputy head warden Ian Turner took charge.
At the moment, I'm doing boots.
The reason is to keep the hygiene
to the best we can to stop any diseases coming in.
'Every vehicle enters onto the straw. The straw's been sprayed with a disinfectant.
'We've got a spray pump and every vehicle's wheels are sprayed.
'Whoever's driving the vehicle's got to get out and we do the feet.
'And they do that on entering and leaving.'
There's only one way that anybody can enter and that is this road in. All other roads have been closed.
We've got the wind blowing down-country, which is bad.
The virus survives better in damp, cold, miserable weather,
which is exactly the weather we're getting, which is what we don't want.
We want it to warm up a bit.
The warmer, the better.
It's just another worry, it's just something else.
We just don't need this.
Tim Yeo was in charge of many of the cloven-hoofed animals
at risk in the park.
We're just about to go up and move the fallow deer
back into the safari park.
We want to do this quite quickly because of
the outbreak of foot and mouth in the area.
There's a confirmed case nearby.
We really just want to bring animals in a bit closer,
away from our perimeter fences.
Back into the centre of the park.
There were over 200 fallow deer to bring in and every spare hand
in the park turned out to help.
Bob Trollope led the team going up into the woods.
As soon as you come to them,
go like that, sort of thing.
Avoid them, so they can run past if they want. Anything else, let it go.
Can you spread out a bit more?
The 20-strong team formed a line to herd the deer down towards the gate.
You can actually see them going along the race now,
so that's good.
GARBLED VOICE ON WALKIE-TALKIE
What was that?
Well, hopefully...we've just got news from Tim that I think most of them...
well, all of them have actually gone through where we wanted them to go. So, it's worked.
Thanks ever so much, everybody, that was wonderful.
They're all in. I know that's hard work going up that hill.
-But...brilliant. Thank you very much. Job done.
The giraffery is home to camels, zebra, goats and tapirs
as well as the giraffes.
And every single one of them was vulnerable to foot and mouth.
Back in 2001, the head of section was Lucy Harnal.
It would be very traumatic for everybody if we lost the animals.
It's hard to imagine...
the worst comes to the worst, having the animals put down, it's hard to imagine it.
And it's going to be absolutely devastating for all of us.
Feeding time is important at the moment.
We can get a lot closer to the animals while they're eating.
And we can have a good check of their mouths and their feet.
And make sure everyone is eating.
So it's a good time for us to have a really close check of the animals.
Just by feeding them bananas like this by hand,
the ones that are more tame you can feed by hand,
and we can have a closer good check of their mouths.
Check for anything that shouldn't be there.
Across the park, all the keepers were doing these grim checks.
And even a single sign of foot and mouth would mean death
to almost every animal here.
This series, we've followed a true love story.
A tangled web of desire between Rosie and Red,
the Chilean rose tarantulas.
It had been keeper Kim Tucker's dream for these two to get it on
as they have never had spiderlings in Pets' Corner.
So she chaperoned the first date,
which was not without its risks to young Red.
She might attack him, quite fatally.
So, hence the reason I have to sit and watch the whole process.
So, get him out before
she attacks him or eats him or anything horrid like that.
She had legs to die for.
And he nearly did.
But the date was a success.
He's doing it. He's doing it!
But, for Red, this may have been his last hurrah.
Unfortunately, what they do say is that after three months he may die.
So, regardless of the fact that she didn't eat him,
he still isn't going to last very long.
Well, now Kate's gone down to Pets' Corner
to find out whether this fairy tale indeed happily ever after or not.
Well, here is Rosie, the Chilean rose spider,
and Kim, who is engineering this great romance between Rosie and Red.
What's the latest?
Well, a couple of weeks ago, she did lay an egg sack.
But there must have been something wrong with it because she ate it.
So, it could be lots of different reasons why she'd do that.
So, I noticed that Red had spun another sperm web.
So what I did was put him back in the box with Rosie in the hope that...
-Well, yeah. And straightaway...
I mean, last time I had to edge them together a little bit.
This time he went for it and then got out of the way as soon as possible.
Because, I mean, there is that story
that female tarantulas will kill males as soon as they've mated.
Yeah. Some of them do. Because of the position they're in, they're sort of
face to face, her teeth are quite close to all his soft bits underneath
so, if she was to bite him there, it can be quite fatal.
So the best thing for them is to get out the way.
-So, he scarpered as soon as the deed was done?
-Oh, yes. He was up and out the box and nearly on the floor.
So, you were there, ready to catch him. "Well done, my son!"
Well, just looking in here, I mean, first of all, is she...
Am I imagining it or is she looking a bit plumpish?
She is very, very fat, compared to what she normally looks like.
She did exactly the same thing last time, she's gone off her food,
which hopefully means that...
Food being in the tank is a threat to her egg sack,
so I've sort of held off on the feeding.
At the beginning, they'll eat loads and loads and loads and loads,
whereas now she's gone off it.
So we've left her be. She's got a little bit of webbing down there.
There is a bit of web. What would that be a sign of?
The last time she laid the egg sack,
what she did was laid quite a large area of web
because what she does is puts the eggs in the middle of it,
then pulls it all up and round.
-Oh, like a sort of blanket?
And keeps rolling it and rolling it until it's exactly how she wants it.
And keeps the eggs nice and safe.
Then she rotates it and carries it around.
So, judging by the length of time
that it took her to lay the egg sack last time,
when do you think she might lay this time, if all your instincts are right?
We're about a week off the last time.
So, fingers crossed, it could be any time within the next week.
Well, shall we tuck her away and just have a look at
the hopefully triumphant father and see how he's doing?
Oh, my goodness! He's so much tinier than her, isn't he?
He's absolutely diddy, compared to Rosie.
If she does lay eggs,
I mean, how many babies could you have in a week's time?
Erm, I'd like the lower end of the scale, which is 25.
But I could end up with the higher end, which is about 2,000.
Oh, my goodness! What on earth will you do with them all?
Well, what some breeders do is they leave all the babies in and don't feed them for a little while
and they do cannibalise, so it brings the numbers down a little bit.
-So, that's a sort of natural process, presumably?
So, all depending on how many she has, depends on
how we go about dealing with them.
They both look extremely content, if you can say that about a spider.
And, I have to say, I would rather you hold him than me.
But, Red, I'll shake a leg with you. There we go.
Shake a leg to say congratulations and may you have many,
but not too many, lovely babies.
-Kim, well done for a really, really good job done.
-Thank you very much.
Up in Monkey Jungle, the feed pipe, our cameras and the monkeys
are primed for a feeding frenzy.
Oh, look. We've got the first monkey up on top of the wood there.
Can you identify the monkeys apart?
We can tell a few. There's a few with distinct characters.
The first one there, the bigger one there, is called Maggie.
She's got a very sort of dominant character to her.
-How on earth do you know that's Maggie?
-Just facially, and her walk.
Like I say, there's a few we know fairly well.
And the noise that we can occasionally hear, it's almost like
a squeaking noise, what is that?
Some of it is actually a fear noise. They're challenging each other.
And once they start eating they'll chatter a little bit.
That will bring more and more of them to come over.
And will they literally just eat as much as they...
to fill them and then go off?
What these monkeys have, they've got cheek pouches, so what they'll do is,
they'll stuff their cheek pouches with as much as they can.
-So, they'll literally hoard?
-They do. Yeah, just like a gerbil.
When they're happy there's nothing else around, they carry on as usual.
-It's a fantastic sight, isn't it?
It's nice to see it working.
Some things we'll try and do
and the monkeys just rip it apart straightaway
but it's pretty strong, they're not going to be able to pull it apart,
so I think we're on to a winner.
It's not keeping them off the cars, though, Kevin, is it?
-Thank you very much. And good luck with this, it looks like a huge success.
Back down at Half Mile Lake, Dr Kim Blackburn is still testing Raftcam.
It's now fixed and ready for the second,
and hopefully more successful, voyage.
But a damaged motor could pale in significance
to the damage that one bite by a hippo could cause.
So how close will Spot and Sonia allow the raft to get?
The hippos have moved and they've gone out further over there.
-I can see. Shall we wander over?
-Yes, let's see how they get on.
At the moment, she seems totally non-fazed by it, which is great.
-But it's difficult to know how close is too close.
I'm quite surprised that you're as close as you are really.
I can see an eye come up there.
Clearly being watched.
She's aware of it now.
Shall I just park it there a minute? See what happens.
Well, I guess the thing is, with the camera on it,
we can just slowly sneak further in as we go along.
Is she coming towards it, do you think?
Difficult to tell with the ripples.
Just gently moving away, so...
there's no sort of aggression there.
She didn't take a chunk out of it.
No, that's positive. That was better than I was thinking.
To get it that close.
Now we need a camera on there.
To see what we can see from the raft. It's disappearing into the reflection.
But the question is, are the hippos just waiting for us
to put our expensive cameras on before they attack?
This is something that you rarely see, a water trough
with very little algae in it.
It is beautiful, it is clear. Is that thanks to your hard work, Bev?
A little bit, but we do have some help from some other things as well.
I couldn't believe this. When we were in the goat enclosure
the other day, I suddenly spotted these in the water trough.
I thought maybe one of the visitors had wanted to get rid of a goldfish
and stuck it in the trough but you've put them in on purpose.
Yep, we've got six goldfish in there and the main aim of the game
is for them to keep the algae down.
Before we put them in there, there was clumps of algae floating on the top,
cos this is a very sunny position.
But they tend to keep it down.
But goats are famous for eating everything.
Surely they don't mind a bit of algae.
Goats are pickier than you think.
What is it about algae that goldfish like so much?
Well, goldfish are a member of the carp family
and we heard that local farmers
are using big grass carp in their bigger cattle troughs
to keep the algae down, so that's why we use the goldfish.
It's their natural food, it's really good for them.
They'll eat bugs, fish eggs,
algae, plant matter, anything like that.
We will from time to time feed them as well,
but, yeah, they tend to help us keep it clean.
Bev, a huge surprise but a great story, thank you very much indeed.
We've still got lots more coming up on today's programme.
Ben and I have to feed tigers, lions and a pack of hungry wolves.
And Kate meets the grand old dame of the East Africa reserve.
When I get to retirement age,
I wouldn't mind being looked after by you lot at the giraffery.
Back now to a day in history that will never be forgotten.
2nd March 2001, the day a nearby outbreak of foot-and-mouth
meant the whole park had to be locked down.
when we decided to close the estate down, it brought it home to everybody how serious this is.
When our cameras joined the keepers for their tea break,
the mood was pretty grim.
Who only knows what will happen around here?
I don't want to think about that, really.
I know you do, but I just...
I can't get it into my head, really.
No-one wants to have to...
destroy the animals they have worked with,
or known all their lives.
In some cases, hand-reared.
That would be a very sad day, very sad day or weeks.
Very, very sad.
A few of the members of staff here live in.
If they lose their job, they lose their home.
I don't suppose for one minute Lord Bath would put you straight out on the street,
but you've got to make plans, haven't you?
It would just knock the stuffing out of everybody here, it really would.
And it would take you a long time to get over it.
Because it would be traumatic.
Quite frankly, I am terrified.
The thought of it terrifies me.
You know, to...to go in there in the morning,
or whenever, and see symptoms.
How many lives are we going to lose animal-wise?
-I just wish it would go away.
As everybody would think.
It is a nightmare that we are living. That everybody is living.
Days turn to weeks,
but the threat, the danger, the anxiety, never let up.
-'8 o'clock, the headlines.
'The future of four farms hangs in the balance this morning...'
-'..fight to contain the spread of the disease.
'There have been more confirmed cases today.
'One farm leader said, "We are staring into the abyss."'
Everyone was affected, from the most junior keeper to Lord Bath himself.
It is the most frightening thing that has happened since
I have been in charge and during the whole time I have been living here.
It's a very frightening prospect of something that could happen,
but we're still hoping very much that we've done enough precautions
to see that it doesn't come to that.
We would be hit very heavily if it was to get on to the estate.
It is terrifying,
because if one had to decimate the safari park in that fashion,
it really does raise the issue of can one have safari parks,
if it's going to strike every two to three years?
If the worst did come to the worst,
would we ever open up as we are now with the animals we keep?
Could we make an attractive safari park with just wolves, lions and tigers?
Would the public keep being loyal and coming?
That's right, that's the biggest question we'd have to ask ourselves.
At least the carnivores were safe from foot and mouth.
They can't catch it. But in those days,
they had five African elephants who were susceptible to the disease.
Their keeper was Andy Hayton.
I'm feeling pretty terrified at the moment, probably the same as everybody else.
It is a complete air of doom hanging over the place.
If we lost the elephants, it would just be catastrophic.
We've put nine years' hard work into these animals
and brought them on since they were this big.
Catastrophic for the UK elephant herd as a whole,
these elephants are important for breeding potential in the future.
It is very far-reaching.
The trade in elephants coming from Asia and Africa has stopped.
So replacing these guys
as a wild stock, you are not going to get any more.
I will do anything possible to protect these animals.
On the other side of the park,
the herd of 11 Eland antelope were being kept isolated,
but eventually Tim Yeo had to turn them out in order to clean the yard.
It is extremely hard to know what to do for the best.
We can't shut them up indefinitely unless we've got really good cause.
Being confined, they're not able to go out and forage,
and they get agitated sometimes.
We have to be very careful.
In Pets' Corner, Darren Beasley was also being vigilant.
My big worry down here are my two pigs.
Bruno and Blossom, pot-bellied pigs,
being members of the pig family, are very susceptible to foot and mouth disease.
We are unclear on who else can carry the disease, so at the moment,
we are going to take precautions and say everyone is a possible career,
every single animal from guinea pigs to otters,
meerkats to parrots.
One of the concerns I have is we have breeding programmes
My tortoise breeding programme
has been up and running for just over four years now.
Some of these tortoises are 60, 70, 80, maybe 90 years old.
They've been through different problems throughout their lives. They've had good and bad lives.
It would be totally dreadful to lose any animal.
To lose any one part of a breeding programme,
it will set us back for years to come.
In fact, I don't know if we would ever recover from it.
As the weeks passed, the situation showed no sign of improvement.
The nightmare just dragged on and on.
We've never managed to get close to the hippos in the water.
And, for over 30 years, neither has their keeper, Mark.
They HAVE been filmed in the wild,
as you can see from this amazing footage.
But when they feel threatened, they tend to attack.
To try and get some shots at the safari park, we invented Raftcam.
We've got cameras and microphones on and under it.
But it didn't take long to discover our first problem.
It turns out the lake's a bit silty.
That floating shrubbery out there is in fact Raftcam.
And Mark here is controlling it.
On this screen here we're actually watching the images
of the safari boat as it goes past.
We're hoping to catch some images of the reclusive hippos,
if I can call them that, and the inquisitive sea lions. No sign of anything just yet.
-And the controls, you've been taught how to move this.
-How's it going so far?
-It's not too bad.
It's quite easy. Do you fancy a go?
I'd love to have a quick go. Of course I would!
Just like a normal remote-controlled car. You've got two engines.
Two engines? So if I... Should I put both of them forward?
I seem to be just going in circles!
I think you need to back off the power on one of the engines.
OK. How about that? There we go.
I was getting dizzy, watching that!
Where have you spotted the sea lion?
-There was one there.
-There we go. I'm going to pass that back to you.
Let's see if we can get a shot.
Did you spot who that was?
-Here we go.
-I think it was Zook.
We think Zook is there. She's too wily!
-She is too wily.
-You spin it around.
Well, I've spotted the hippos a long way over there.
I'm wondering whether we should head towards the hippos or stay here.
I think it would probably be best to go for the hippos.
Apparently, this is made to go at a fast walking pace.
I think I could walk a little quicker than this!
We're sneaking up quite well there, I'd say.
I'm very excited.
We're getting really close now.
You're in the right direction. Yes! I can see them in the background.
Keep going straight ahead.
-They're still quite small. Oh...
-Let's hope they don't come up underneath!
We're going to continue exploring the lake.
Join us later to find out what we see.
Back in the spring of 2001, the foot and mouth epidemic
meant the estate had to be virtually cut off from the outside world.
Almost no-one was allowed in or out.
Deputy head warden Ian Turner
even had to take over domestic deliveries.
I'm just about to drop off the milk.
The milkman's dropped off at the barrier. We don't let him in,
he's going through country lanes.
It's just for the cottages down this row of houses.
Number two, number six and number one I've got to drop them off at.
It's another job we could do without.
But it's got to be done. People have got to have milk and bread.
It's just something else you've got to do.
People are a bit surprised when I turn up on their doorsteps
dropping off letters, bread, milk and delivering their papers.
We've got to try and cut down the people coming in and going out as much as we can.
To guard against the possibility of foot and mouth
coming in with the deliveries, goods had to be transferred at the roadblock.
It was as if the park was under siege.
Although lions can't catch foot and mouth, there were problems
getting fresh meat delivered and the purpose-built feed wagon broke down.
Since all non-essential people were barred, they couldn't get it fixed,
so Bob Trollope resorted to using an old pick-up truck.
Normally, we would do it
two or three times a week. But obviously,
with this foot and mouth problem,
we've got to eke out our meat supply a little bit.
This is a bit like how the lions were fed in the old days
and before health and safety issues were a big concern.
Charlie's pride were waiting for lunch too.
But here in the woods, there was less room
for radical driving techniques, so Bob just let them help themselves.
No-one wants to see this virus get to Longleat.
Obviously we're little bit
more relieved, working in the lion reserve, that our animals
wouldn't get affected directly by it.
if the rest of the animals go, what future does it hold for the lions?
But still, the park stayed clear of foot and mouth.
After four weeks, it looked as if the epidemic was fading.
Estate manager Tim Moore was able to announce some guarded good news.
We have talked to the vets,
and we know we can keep the at risk animals in the safari park,
in effect, in quarantine.
So we can keep them well separate from visitors.
On that basis, we think it's a reasonable risk for limited opening.
We've got a lot of jobs at risk here.
You've got to balance up the risk from foot and mouth to the animals,
the advice you're getting on a veterinary level about
reasonably sensible precautions,
versus the fact that if you don't open
and don't have a business, you've got huge financial problems.
Longleat had a lucky escape.
By the time the summer came,
the spectre of foot and mouth was almost past.
The park could finally reopen all areas for the public to enjoy.
When foot and mouth struck, no-one could have predicted
how serious it would get.
There were over 2,000 cases.
4 million animals were slaughtered.
It devastated the countryside.
Farms and rural attractions were all affected.
Should it ever happen again, places like Longleat must be prepared.
Now, Keith, it was a pretty terrible time. I was down here as well.
It came to within just a few farms of Longleat, didn't it?
It was within 15 kilometres of Longleat.
So, literally as the crow flies, it was farms away.
So, there were some dark days.
I actually don't like thinking back, but it was quite frightening.
I suppose it's really important that you do remember that
and keep prepared. What sort of preparations have you got here?
We've got a whole variety of things we can put in place
literally overnight if we need to.
That includes digging up roads to put in wheel baths,
a whole biodiversity across the estate. Um...
We can actually shut it down completely.
Which is drastic, but if it needs doing, yes, we can do it.
A lot of farmers did lose their livelihoods,
they lost all their animals, which is totally tragic.
I don't want to say our animals are different.
But when you've got endangered species here, that are
in short supply in the world, it does concentrate your mind
a bit more. So, yeah, they were really dark times.
It's one we don't like to think of but, for the future,
if it happens again, we've got to be prepared and ready to do it.
We have to at least talk about it.
-Fingers crossed, nothing like that should ever happen.
Had foot and mouth struck,
the East Africa Reserve would probably have never have recovered.
But it would also have affected conservation on a global scale.
The park started breeding giraffe in the 1960s
and built up one of the most important captive breeding programmes in the world.
These are an endangered sub-species called Rothschild giraffe.
There are only about 400 left in the wild.
In 40 years, there have now been over 100 births at the park.
Today, there's a herd of 12 animals.
But there is one old lady
that has been pivotal to the breeding programme.
She's 24 years old, has given birth to 10 calves
and now is in her twilight years.
She's a bit arthritic and taking a break from the main herd,
so I've gone to pay her a visit.
Well, here is Jolly now,
-and she certainly hasn't lost her appetite, Bev.
-No, not at all.
I think her most favourite thing in the world is bananas.
She's enjoying it today, definitely.
So she's still up in the paddock away from the rest of the herd?
-At the moment, but a couple of days ago she walked out with the herd.
Some days she feels better than others.
-She is very slow, especially walking across this yard.
But when she gets to this gate, if she keeps up with the group
she'll go down with everybody, if she loiters,
which she does occasionally, she'll stay here.
So it's not too much of a hardship for her to be
up here getting personal attention.
Not really, we try and spoil her.
She's got her salt lick, her browse, her water,
she's got everything just here for her.
She does mooch about the paddock.
She's still reasonably mobile, just stiff and a bit slow, really.
Like we're all getting in our old age, aren't we, Jol?
She's looking incredibly well.
A little bit grey but definitely distinguished.
Well, yes, she does look good.
We're very happy with her weight, she looks a bit elderly
and her little patches are greying.
-We think she looks quite cool!
-I think she looks absolutely wonderful.
For the time being, you're just going to keep monitoring her
and leave her be while she's happy and, as you say, relatively mobile?
That's right. Some days she's better than others.
We do have our down days and she does seem really stiff
but, you know, she's on medication for that so each day
she seems to get a little better.
You look very happy indeed!
I have to say, Bev, when I get to retirement age,
I wouldn't mind being looked after by all you lot at the giraffery.
You certainly know how to spoil a girl, don't they, Jol?
I hope that she continues to stay well and happy because she is
everybody's favourite giraffe, quite rightly, aren't you, girl?
Back down at Half Mile Lake,
Mark and I have been trying to get close to the hippos
without being attacked, and we're finally getting some good shots.
So we've got the two hippos, Sonia and Spot there.
Yep, right in front of us.
-Pretty close, I'd say.
-Yeah, not bad. They seem quite settled there.
-We can probably sneak up a bit closer.
-Yeah, I think so.
Keep going so they really have no idea...
-Getting really close there.
Still doesn't really seem to have an idea...
We've got the swan and all those cygnets just behind.
It's a fantastic way...
-..Of sneaking up.
She's got her head on the other one's back.
I was gonna say, because it's very high up.
-Oh, look, look, in fact that's the other one there.
We're so close now, this is great.
Look at the snouts there, you get a really good image.
I mean, they go underwater for considerable distances,
can they close it down like a sea lion can?
They can close their nostrils off,
and they can spend seven or eight minutes underwater.
They can literally go from one end of the lake to the other
without being seen.
You're going to crash into it if you're not careful!
-Oh, look, I think she has spotted us and look, not happy.
What's this wood coming towards us?
-You can really see the pink on the ears there, can't you?
-they're very clean.
-How thick is that skin
that we're looking at there?
Very, very... I mean, it's pure blubber.
-All the way round is fat.
So they can survive very cold conditions I imagine, then?
They have done in this country, obviously,
although they naturally come from Uganda, very hot.
You know, these two have lived out in this lake since the '70s
and we've had some pretty cold weather back in the '70s and '80s.
The lake used to freeze over quite regularly.
They've got quite used to that.
You're getting so close! I hope you don't crash again.
I'll see if I can park it on her back.
Amazing, you can see the eye and the ear as we go past.
-Are those little hairs on her back?
-Yeah, hairs all over her body.
-Look at that.
-That is amazing.
-She's not gonna eat us, is she?
-I don't know, she's turning round.
Quick, try and spin the camera and see if you can... Oh. No.
Look at the wake that she makes.
I hope that doesn't capsize our raft.
-It's quite impressive.
-Look, there she is.
-They are magnificent looking things, aren't they?
They are, in my whole eight years or so here,
they're the animals I've seen the least.
This is probably the closest I've seen them.
This is the closest we've been to them in the water.
I mean, obviously, we normally see them from a distance but this is getting real close.
We've certainly had the closest encounter
these dangerous girls have had for 30 years.
But to get any nearer in the future we're going to need a bigger raft.
Four years ago, the safari park
was involved in a new captive breeding programme with white rhino.
Three rhino, two females and a male were brought from South Africa
and there were high hopes
once they were sexually mature some baby rhino wouldn't be far away.
Well, this year things have really been hotting up.
The male has been mating with both girls
and Ian Turner's dream of a baby was finally looking a possibility.
So, pregnancy tests were done.
Sadly, the tests last month came back negative, and to make things worse,
the last time we saw Marashi she was worryingly off-colour.
Oh, come on over here, girl, we're worried about you.
The decision was made to dose her up and keep her tucked up in the house.
So I popped up to see how she's doing.
She certainly seems more alert today,
and generally a bit more sociable, doesn't she?
Yeah, I mean, before we came over to see her
she was a bit keener to come over and have a bit of contact.
Yesterday she just wasn't bothered.
She was really lethargic, wasn't she, and kind of listless yesterday.
When something like a rhino gets a cold,
I mean, can you equate it to a human cold?
Would you expect her to see some improvement in two or three days?
Yes, I mean, she's a little bit better today.
I would imagine she'd gradually improve
and probably by the weekend she'll hopefully be back to normal.
Thankfully, Marashi quickly bounced back.
But to bring this story right up-to-date,
let's join Ian Turner for some news that has put a big smile on his face.
Well, it's reasonably good news without getting too excited.
Rosena here who always comes into season as regular as clockwork,
this month she's not.
So it's bit exciting that she's not come into season,
cos that's the first signs that she could be pregnant.
It's looking really good news.
The other thing is that Marashi,
the other female, she's not come in as well.
We've always wanted baby rhinos, we've had them before.
This has been an ongoing plan for probably 15 years or more.
So it's fingers crossed, really.
It's been a long time waiting for baby rhinos and we've got another 16 months,
if she is pregnant, before we're actually gonna have a baby rhino.
It's quite a long period of time.
We are a bit excited underneath all of it.
So, you wait 17 years for a pregnant rhino
and two may have come along at once!
We hope to bring you all the news on a future episode of Animal Park.
But now we're heading back to Pets' Corner because there's news
of some more arrivals.
Rosie, the tarantula, did indeed produce an egg sack.
It's Kim's first and she's about to find out
if there's any spiders in it.
Moment of truth.
Please let there be baby spiders. Oh, my God!
-I've got baby spiders.
-In fact, Kim has about 400
and, for now, will carefully monitor every incy-wincy one of them.
But now there's work to be done.
There are three tigers, 16 lions and a pack of wolves at the park,
and every three or four days they get fed.
The feed wagon's wheels are rolling
and Kate and I are inside on our way to the Tiger Territory.
Well, sadly, it is almost the end of our time here at Longleat for this year
but we've got one final job,
which is to come out and feed all the big cats and the wolves.
We're in the tiger enclosure and if you look round that way
the tigers are already coming up to follow the feed truck.
These three, Bob, have they done you proud?
Yeah, they're coming along brilliantly.
As you can see, they're all chasing the feed wagon
which they didn't do initially.
-They're very much like our old lot.
Now we have got cameras mounted on this feed wagon, at every corner,
to see at every angle whether they might try and chew the tyres.
Any problems with tyre chewing
-or are they behaving themselves pretty well?
-Sundari's had a few.
-She's getting good at it.
Here she comes.
-Hey, no more tyres!
They'd actually killed a vehicle.
So, yes, it's erm...
She's outwitting our patrol people!
She's all over the place. It's quite unusual to see
a tiger being chased by a zebra.
You don't see that very often, do you?
-Shall I take a piece?
-And who's gonna get this piece?
I think Sundari will as soon as she realises. She's had a tyre!
-Did she get it then?
-Did she actually get the tyre?
-I heard that hiss.
-Does that mean we have to...
No, we just have to carry on.
I don't want to jump out there and change this!
With one less tyre but still lots of meat, it's on to Lion Country.
So we're now whizzing through Charlie's pride, Bob.
-He's looking fantastic.
He's a magnificent beast.
And you can see there just how fast he is as well...
-Dwarfs the cars, sometimes. You know, it's pretty interesting to
be able to see them run after us,
-and it's a fair distance they've covered.
I mean, they're panting.
Yeah, they want to be here first.
It's interesting, the girls are going first and he's waiting, is he?
Yeah, that's it, you would mimic the wild, the females do the hunting
and the killing and he's just looking for the best bit, really.
I think he was waiting for Kate to jump!
It's a good workout for you, Kate!
It is, trying to balance on a wobbly truck
and drop down huge, heavy pieces of meat.
Right, that's them all done.
Wolf Wood is home to not only eight adults but five youngsters as well.
They had a difficult start,
sadly losing one following a severe outbreak of worms.
But now, five are thriving.
The youngsters... There they are.
-Oh, there are the cubs!
Oh, I mean, I think the wolves...
it's been a really great year.
We're getting out here, aren't we?
We're gonna drag out these...
-I see you've taken the little one, Ben. Thanks!
-I thought you needed the workout!
Yeah, thanks, Ben(!)
And where shall we put all this?
-Shall we pull it around here?
-Put it over here, yeah.
Can you manage that, Kate?
-The cubs are coming over, they're quite brave.
-Here they come.
-Look at this one!
The little thing!
They actually come up to the food and nibble on it.
Judging by the way they're reacting with Brian, they're fearless!
Well, either fearless or stupid. I don't quite know.
Well, Bob, congratulations on a great year.
The big cats and the wolves have all done really well.
Sadly, that really is the end of our time here at Longleat for this year
but from the keepers, from all the animals and, of course, from us,
-thank you for watching, see you again.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Behind the scenes at Longleat Safari Park.
In the final episode of this series, Ben Fogle attempts to get within inches of two of the park's most dangerous animals. Meanwhile, Kate Humble catches up with one of the oldest, Jolly the giraffe, and the programme revisits the time that the foot-and-mouth crisis threatened almost every animal at the safari park.