The Secret Life Of The Zoo At Christmas


Yes, I know there was a full series before this Christmas special, but I don’t have time to do a review of that yet as, well, it’s Christmas. Christmas is a busy time for everyone generally, and I’ve also got a lot of Christmas telly to blog about this year. So I’m going to review the Christmas special of The Secret Life Of The Zoo now, and probably post the review of series 2 at some point in the new year.

This episode saw Chester Zoo celebrating Christmas. The keepers wear Santa hats, and the animals get Christmas presents too.

The orangutans are given stockings (well, big sacks of food). One of them, Indah, wakes up earlier than the others, who aren’t too pleased to find out she has taken all the best stuff! The young orangutans like to play with the packaging more than the present, which is something which sometimes happens with human children.

The miniature monkeys are given “monkey-friendly mince pies”. The macaques have Christmas pudding made from pellets.

The radiated tortoises get a Christmas dinner of Brussels sprouts, cabbage and “tortoise friendly gravy”.

Bali, a 32-years old and over 22 foot long reticulated python, gets a full turkey. Not with all the trimmings, it has the feathers still on. But she seems to like it, which is a relief to the keepers as Bali hadn’t eaten anything for 2 months and had turned down all the other food that they had been giving to her during that time.

The lions get a giant toy ball. This turned out to be a bit like when someone opens a Christmas present and is disappointed with what they get, as the lions didn’t seem impressed or interested in the toy at all. The male, Ibris, liked the Christmas tree though. Well, he liked to use is as a scratching post anyway.

The meerkats got papier-mache balls to play with, which they enjoy, so at least they like their present.

Sun bears have a very long tongue, a bit like Odie’s in Garfield, which they use to find and eat food. There is a sun bear couple at the zoo, Toni and Milli. Keeper Lucy said that if Toni was a human he would be “quiet, shy, likes to read a book, probably likes to treat a girl to some flowers and some chocolates and a nice home cooked meal”. Milli, however, well a dating site probably wouldn’t consider them to be a good match, put it that way. She bosses him about and steals food. Lucy describes Milli as like “a bad housemate” and she seems to be increasingly hostile towards Toni. The two bears have a “trial separation”. Toni is quite happy in a “bachelor pad” having all the food to himself. Milli misses him though. She leaves poo at the side of his fence, which to bears is a way of showing interest. Obviously if humans did this, it wouldn’t work and would create a much different message and effect, but it does work for bears. The two are reunited properly, and begin courtship which and soon progresses to mating, so the trial separation very much helped their relationship.

Tapirs are an unusual looking animal. They look a bit like a pig, but are more closely related to horses and rhinos, and their nose is a bit like a small elephant’s trunk. Betong and Majorie are a tapir couple at the zoo. Majorie becomes pregnant and gives birth to a female calf, Solo. Solo is incredibly cute, and like all tapir calves has a stripy coat, described by keeper Hannah as making the calf look “like a little mint humbug”.

In the wild, the calf is raised by the female alone, in fact males have been known to kill their own calfs! The zoo separates Betong for a while. When they are reunited
he retreats back into his enclosure after seeing Solo. Majorie follows him, and he bites her. Then it is chaos as the two adult tapirs start fighting and chasing, so Betong is separated again.

The keepers characterised Betong as being like a “young, immature, inexperienced dad”. They eventually get all three to eat together, and that seems to do the trick of uniting the family. You would never have thought it from earlier, but Betong and Solo now seem to enjoy spending quality father/daughter time together!

The episode ended with the keepers listening to East 17’s ‘Stay Another Day’, which was a nice touch.

The Secret Life of the Zoo at Christmas was adorable and the sort of heartwarming programme that makes good Christmas TV viewing.

This entry was posted in Animals, Documentary, The Secret Life of the Zoo, TV and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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