Press Centre

Amazing Animal Births

  • Episode: 

    2 of 6

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Mon 19 Jun 2017
  • TX Confirmed: 

  • Time: 

    8.00pm - 8.30pm
  • Week: 

    Week 25 2017 : Sat 17 Jun - Fri 23 Jun
  • Channel: 

The information contained herein is embargoed from press use, commercial and non-commercial reproduction and sharing into the public domain until Tuesday 13 June 2017.
Episode 2
In this new six-part series, zoologist Lucy Cooke will be witnessing the miracle of life as she sees first-hand the incredible bond between a mother and her offspring - that extraordinary moment when a little baby comes into a huge world.
From alligators, alpacas and gorillas, to guinea pigs, tapirs and lions, Lucy will be there as these animal babies embark on their amazing new adventures.
It’s the second episode, and while every year thousands of animals of all shapes and sizes are born in the UK, just like humans, not every animal will have a natural birth. So Lucy is getting some vet training and helping to deliver some puppies via C-Section.
She’s come to meet Lopsie, a two-year-old French Bulldog, who’s booked in for a Caesarean. Whilst their breeding may have led to a desirable looking dog, it’s one that’s difficult to deliver naturally because of its bigger head, meaning around 80% are actually born by C-section.
Lucy says: “I’ve not really been around many medical procedures and I am a little bit squeamish about blood. I’m also a big softy, that loves dogs, so I’m a bit nervous about seeing one get cut open.”
Lucy discovers that this particular breed have quite a narrow windpipe, meaning it’s a fine balance to anaesthetise Lopsie to ensure that she has just enough drugs so that she can’t feel anything, but making sure that the drugs don’t make the pups inside her sleepy.
After a successful procedure, all the puppies seem healthy, but they are given one final check over for Cleft Palate, which is a problem for Bulldogs, and can cause huge issues for the puppies when it comes to suckling from Mum.
Just an hour later and Lopsie is safely back at home, wide awake and ready to feed her new babies.
Another incredibly successful animal breeding story comes from the beautiful island of Jersey, where Lucy meets a magnificent Silverback gorilla.
Lucy says: “Being in the right place at the right time to see an animal give birth is incredibly rare, because most animals give choose late nights or early morning away from prying eyes or predators. I’ve come here to Durrell Wildlife Park to find out about an incredible birth that's been captured on camera.”  
Here they specialise in rare and endangered creatures, and the team of experts develop breeding programmes to try and preserve species and reintroduce them into the wild.
Badongo is a 16-year-old Silverback in charge of a band of gorillas, which he rules with an iron fist, deciding when they wake up, eat and go to sleep. And it’s his job to continue the family line, by getting his harem of three females pregnant.
One of whom is Bahasha, who two years ago suffered a stillbirth, and all attempts to get her pregnant again have failed, but having recently mated, it’s time for her pregnancy test.
Lucy discovers that staff use the same type of pregnancy test kits that you buy from the pharmacy, though it’s evident you need a bit of patience to sit and watch the gorilla in the morning to see if it pees.  
However, the test proves negative on this occasion, so no baby joy yet for Bahasha, but the zoo has another hopeful young mum.
Bahia is a five-year-old Andean Bear, and the team are using another tool designed for human pregnancy – they’re going to be performing an ultrasound scan to find out if she’s expecting.
Lucy says: “I’ve had some strange jobs on this series, but feeding a bear grapes whilst she has an ultrasound – it’s up there!”
There’s no sign of a baby that particular day, but the team has rigged Bahia’s enclosure with cameras, so that when the time comes they can capture the birth.
There is one animal at the wildlife park that the team has managed to capture giving birth, and that’s Sumatran Orangutan, Dana. 
Dana had been pregnant before, but nearly died after extensive bleeding following a stillbirth, so any future pregnancies needed to be carefully monitored.
When Dana fell pregnant for the second time, the team watched her every move, desperate to make sure that things went well this time around.
Lucy concludes: “It’s been so fascinating to see how much effort goes into each of these births here at Durrell Wildlife Park…It’s a major production involving animals being trained and hours of observation…But what is more touching really is how it matters to them (the staff) on a personal level because of the relationship they’ve developed with these animals.”