Chester Zoo returns to TV screens in The Secret Life of the Zoo

Fans of the heart-warming TV series The Secret Life of the Zoo will be delighted to know that a new series of the fly-on-the-wall documentary is starting this week.

The BAFTA-nominated show, which first aired in 2016, takes viewers behind the scenes at the UK’s most popular wildlife attraction, following Chester Zoo’s mission to prevent the extinction of some of the world’s most endangered animals.

Using cutting edge cameras to capture astonishing animal behaviour, the series gives viewers a previously unseen insight into the world of Chester’s 35,000 animals, revealing their close relationships with the keepers and animal care staff.

Welcoming more than two million visitors a year, Chester is the UK’s most visited zoo and England’s most visited tourist attraction outside London.

In the first episode, which airs on Wednesday and is titled ‘Extraordinary Births’, 37-year-old female Asian elephant, Thi Hi Way, is pregnant with her ninth baby. Elephant pregnancies usually last an epic 22 months, but keepers believe Thi is now well overdue.

Meanwhile, rhinoceros hornbill Liv, 39, is devoted to her younger partner Manu, 19. His massive 25-cm long beak wooed Liv and, despite their strong relationship, the pair are yet to produce any offspring.

In October of 2018, disaster struck when a fire engulfed their habitat. They survived but keepers believe the shock of the experience might be hindering their chances of producing chicks.

When they’re moved to a new nest, Liv quickly produces a new clutch of eggs. Could luck finally be on the side of Manu and Liv?

The reproductive life of seahorses is believed to be controlled by the phases of the moon. They are one of the few species on the planet where the male is responsible for giving birth, and clumsy underdog Seabiscuit only has a week to attract a female, incubate her eggs and give birth – all in time for the next full moon.

Despite his small pot belly – the main attraction for females when looking for a new mate – he catches the eye of female Wilma and becomes pregnant when the eggs are transferred to his belly.

In the wild, only 0.1% of offspring survive, and only time will tell if any of Seabiscuit’s babies will survive birth.

For some species, reproducing is the stuff of nightmares, and this is no exception for Jewel wasp Ripley, who needs to find the perfect cockroach to help give birth to her offspring.

Unfortunately for Karl the cockroach, who Ripley plans to paralyze with venom, lay her eggs on and then bury alive, he is the perfect ‘host’.

Transformed effectively into a zombie, Ripley’s larvae will feast on Karl’s insides until they’re ready to hatch out of his empty shell.

But, Ripley has been introduced to several cockroaches in the past, and will Karl be unlucky enough to fall under her spell? 

The new series of The Secret Life of the Zoo starts on Channel 4 on Wednesday 26th Aug, at 8pm.


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