It is an important time at Longleat Animal Park. There has not been a new tiger there for 18 years and the programme showed 3 tigers being introduced into the park after a period of quarantine for 6 months. The tigers are sisters with very different personalities – one being quite soft and friendly (or so they thought) and the other two being more fierce. The tigers have come from a zoo in Alsace in France. Longleat already has a 22 year old tiger, who has been alone for some time since the death of the mail. They made the decision for the younger tigers to be in a separate enclosure to the older one.
The three new tigers are two years old and there were some concerns about putting them into the enclosure as they were quite lively and the operation was potentially dangerous. The manoeuvre went quite well but the friendly tiger – Soundari – had taken quite an interest in cars and started to chase them.
The programme also featured some Egyptian fruit bats having who were having some health checks. The bats were difficult to identify as they looked similar (there were 24 in all). The zookeepers has been considering different ways of identification. The keepers did not want to damage the bat’s wings and decided to try something similar to a bird ring. The bats were caught in a net and three of them had two types of ring fitted – one was plastic and one was aluminium. The keepers found the plastic rings on the floor and decided to proceed with aluminium tags. When caught, the bats had their health checks which involved looking for eye injuries, the condition of the wings and teeth. The Egyptian fruit bat can live for up to 28 years, but they had not been at Longleat for that long. The condition and size of the bat was able to give an indication of age.
Feeding animals at the park was a tremendous task and Ben Fogle helped out one keep. Whole horse hearts were minced and some sprats (small fish) added . Ben and the audience were asked to guess which animal ate this food and it turned out to be the Sacred Ibis – a type of wading bird.
Animal Park is an interesting look at how to run a safari park and see how animals are treated and fed.