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Animal lover Paul O’Grady travels to South Africa and Zambia to meet animals that have been orphaned in the wild in this new factual series.
He encounters lions, cheetahs, hippos, elephants, baboons and rhinos, amongst others, who are being hand-reared by humans. Most of the animals he meets have ended up as orphans because of humans, either their parents have been killed by poachers or their natural habitat has been destroyed or encroached upon. Paul gets hands-on helping to care for and rehabilitate the animals and of course makes some new friends along the way.
In episode two, Paul meets cheetah cubs, a rhino calf, baby baboons and spends more time at the Lilayi Elephant Nursery. First, Paul visits Cheetah Outreach, a sanctuary near Cape Town where he learns more about their work to protect Africa’s most endangered wildcats. He is able to get very close to an adult cheetah called Joseph who is being used to breed in captivity to prevent the species becoming extinct. He also meets a litter of six cubs who have been bred in captivity. They are just three months old and are being hand-reared. Paul spends time with the cubs feeding them and playing with them and strikes up such a bond they all fall asleep on him. Paul says: “This is heaven, happiness is sitting on a scrap of blanket in the drizzle with six cheetah cubs on your lap it doesn’t get any better, it really doesn’t.”
Next Paul is back at Moholoholo, an animal rehab centre near Kruger National Park. Here he meets a black rhino calf called Ollie who was orphaned at five months old when his mother was shot and killed. He is now sixteen months old and is looked after by keeper Jamie who has become his surrogate mum. Paul joins Jamie taking Ollie for a mud bath but unfortunately he is not in the mood for a bath. Black rhinos are in critical danger in Africa because of poaching and will be extinct in 10 years if poaching continues. Paul says: “They will join the dodo and countless other animals and birds that are now extinct that we have wiped out. It’s disgusting.”
Next Paul travels to C.A.R.E, a rehabilitation centre for baboons run by Samantha Dewhirst. Adult baboons are often killed in South Africa as they are treated as vermin and the babies are orphaned. The volunteers at C.A.R.E have to become surrogate mothers to the babies, spending 24 hours a day with them, eating and sleeping together. Paul meets baby baboon Tiny Tim who has been hand-reared but is being prepared to be released into the wild. He is invited to watch as Tim is introduced to a group of baboons that will hopefully become his new troop and family. Paul waits anxiously to see if the troop accept or reject Tim.
Then it’s back to the Lilayi Elephant Nursery where Paul gets to spend more time with his favorite elephant Nkala. Paul also meets a very sick baby elephant who has been found alone in Kafue National Park. The calf is believed to have been alone for months after its mother was killed for her ivory and has been slowly starving to death. Paul is distraught to discover there is nothing more the keepers can do to help. Paul says: “You just feel so stupid, so helpless. This is because of poachers. This is so someone can wear ivory bangles and have an ivory chess set, ivory earrings, it’s just wrong.”
Finally Paul takes a trip to meet a troop of baboons who were released into the wild after being looked after at C.A.R.E. The troop is being watched over in the wild until they are able to fully fend for themselves. Paul meets Stephen Munro who sleeps in the wild and lives amongst the baboons teaching them where to find food and how to stay safe by leading them and showing them.
Paul says: “That is the aim of the game, to get these creatures back into the wild where they belong.”