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“A young animal learns everything from its parents about how to survive in the world so if it loses its mum it’s got no chance, unless we step in.” Paul O’Grady
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 three, Paul bonds with a baby vulture, a hippo calf, a warthog and a baby elephant and bottle-feeds a baby giraffe.
First, Paul is in Zambia at Chipembele Animal Rescue centre where he meets Douglas a hippo calf. Douglas is seven months old and was found two months earlier, wandering alone near the Zambezi River. Douglas takes a shine to Paul, following him around like a faithful dog and Paul even takes him for a paddle in a pond at the centre.
Next Paul meets a baby giraffe called Melmin at Moholoholo, an animal rehabilitation centre. Melmin was brought to the centre when she was just four hours old after her parents abandoned her. Paul helps out by bottle-feeding her milk, not an easy task to perform with a giraffe. He also gets to watch as Melmin is released out of the centre and into the reserve where she will enjoy the rest of her life in the wild. Paul says: “She’s glorious, she’s stupid but she’s glorious. I’ve only known her for five minutes but I’ll be sad to see her go.”
After Moholoholo, Paul travels to CROW, the centre for the rehabilitation of wildlife, in Durban, where he meets Wendy the warthog. Wendy came to the centre at two days old and she was so small she could fit in a shoebox. She was deserted by her parents and was so weak the keepers didn’t think she would survive. But after being rehabilitated she has recovered well. Paul bonds with her while burying her lunch, which is important so she gets used to foraging for food. Later in the episode Paul sees Wendy being released in to the wild.
Vultures are an endangered species in Africa and next Paul visits VULPRO, a vulture conservation project near Johannesburg. Paul meets a vulture chick called PJ who he feeds and also preens, helping to get rid of his downy feathers.
Paul says: “I’ve always liked vultures ever since I was a small child, just the sheer power of them. There’s just something about them. They are prehistoric, they’re primeval, they’re just wonderful birds, absolutely wonderful.”
The baby vultures are looked after before being released into the wild as they get older and Paul is given the task of releasing one pair of adult birds into the wild.
Paul then visits Kafue National Park, one of the largest national parks in the world, to see where the baby elephants end up after they leave Lilayi Elephant Nursery. Elephants in Africa are in constant threat because of their ivory and would live until they were 60 if they weren’t attacked by poachers. After seeing some of the elephants in a natural habitat, Paul heads back to Lilayi where he helps give baby elephant Suni a mud bath. Two year old Suni is still recovering after being attacked by the poachers who killed her parents. She wears a special boot to help her injury and after her bath Paul cleans her leg and changes her bandage so she can go for a walk.
Finally, Paul spends a bit of time with his favourite baby elephant – Nakala. He helps tuck him up in bed with a blanket, strokes his heads, gives him a cuddly toy and tells him a good night story. Paul says: “How anyone could harm a beautiful creature like this, it’s just beyond me, just beyond me.”