The Secret Life of the Zoo

The Secret Life of the Zoo

Series 4 - Episode 2



The micro-dramas we see play out in the enclosures of Chester Zoo are enjoyable in their own right, but there's always a subtext. With each story of animal relationships and family tensions, there's the hint of a parallel with people - we can't help reading that into them, and the programme eggs us on. This time there's trouble among the mandrills (those magnificent monkeys with faces like voodoo masks).

Dominant male JC, who has fathered 29 young, is behaving sluggishly and facing a challenge from two younger males. He needs to “keep the boys in their place,” says a zookeeper. Though it turns out the root of the problem is a familiar one for middle-aged males…


The keepers try to work out why male red panda Jung is losing weight, with a full medical examination scheduled after a special diet fails to solve the problem. West African mandrill JC is being challenged for his dominant position by his sons Ludo and Jareth and, while JC is taken for some health checks, Ludo gets 'over-friendly' with his dad's girlfriend. Tempers start to fray among Chester Zoo's Humboldt penguin colony during the annual moult - can youngsters Frazzle and Munch avoid being picked on by the grown-ups?

Cast & Crew

Executive Producer Alistair Pegg
Executive Producer Tanya Winston
Executive Producer Edmund Coulthard
Series Producer Pip Banyard
Documentary Nature