Behind the scenes at Chester Zoo

Channel 4 have done it again. With another addition to The Secret Life of… series brand that gave us a glimpse into the mind-sets of 4, 5 and 6 year-olds, and now animals at home at Chester Zoo. The series explores a new angle to animals living in one of Britain’s most popular zoos, as well as showing us the struggles they go through and the hard work it takes to look after them. The documentary series not only follows the day-to-day adventures of animals from all around the world but also gives us an insight into the work of the zookeepers who struggle tirelessly to make sure these animals feel right at home.

Well-known for their aim to create a zoo environment without bars, Chester Zoo reveal the ins and outs of how it functions with unrestricted access for the film crew of The Secret Life of the Zoo. Using a range of delicate filming techniques, such as micro-rigs to capture up-close shots, viewers are invited into the intimate spaces of the Chester Zoo inhabitants, taking us behind the scenes to get to know the relationship amongst different communities of animals, and perhaps more intriguingly, the relationship between animals and their keepers.

The series’ second episode was aired last Tuesday and drew us into the lives of a penguin couple, an on-the-move pair of tigers with their cubs and the arrival of some Cambodian sun bears. However, as cute and adorable as that may all sound, the main shocker of the show had to be experiencing the mating rituals of tarantulas at the insect house of the zoo (not for the squeamish!). The show documents the interactions of those working at the zoo with their particular animal species, which often reveals heart-warming moments such as when Rudd the penguin had to be taken into surgery for his arthritic hip. As viewers, we are taken along for the ride from when we see Rudd struggling to walk with the rest of his penguin family, as he goes through his surgery, and finally when he is reunited, fully recovered, with his partner Spike at the end. If you thought reality tv shows like Big Brother were addictive, The Secret Life of the Zoo will draw you in stronger by pulling at your heart-strings.

From animal-lovers to zoology enthusiasts, The Secret Life of the Zoo is a great series that allows you to follow some of the world’s most charismatic and loveable animals through their daily lives. Your mind may be put slightly at ease with the morality of zoo environments being validated by the love, hard work and passion of the zookeepers who work tirelessly to make Chester Zoo a fitting home for the animals that live there. Chester Zoo prides itself in conservation and welfare and this comes across when watching the show, the delightful animals and the dedicated staff.

Channel 4, Tuesdays, 8pm


Nabihah Parkar


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