Animals in Love: The world’s five best places to watch cuddling creatures

Travelling through Africa and Europe, BBC producer Anne Sommerfield and her team witnesses lesbian bonobos, canoodling greylag geese and loyal elephants

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Filming in South and Central Africa, Florida, Colorado and the Austrian Alps, new series Animals in Love sees presenter Liz Bonnin study animals mating, grooming and falling for each other.

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Travelling to the Democratic Republic Bonnin learns about bonobos that have same sex relationships. “I think people will be genuinely astounded by what they learn from the show,” says Animals in Love series producer Anne Sommerfield. “From heartwarming love stories to laugh-out-loud dating disasters, life-long same sex partnerships to the heartbreaking loss of a loved one, the series will completely grip you and reveal an entirely new world of animal relationships.”

In Austria, Bonnin meets a greylag geese couple whose story could rival a Disney classic. “The pair was extremely close, but two years into their relationship, tragedy struck when the female, Judith, got lost in a storm,” reveal Sommerfield. “Tarik, the male, was utterly heartbroken, but eventually he had to move on and find a new partner. It was just before the breeding season and there was every hope he might start a family with his new mate, but a year after their tragic separation, Judith unexpectedly returned. Tarik’s response was unmistakable – for him Judith was the one. Seeing them together three years later with their little family was a moment to remember.”

But the big question is whether animals can experience the human-like emotion of love? “It will always be a matter of opinion,” explains Sommerfield , “we all have very different ideas of what love is. But, if you ask me – based on the scientific evidence, the animal behavior, the biochemistry, the hormones and the neurobiology – it’s very clear that many species do experience what we call love. More and more scientists are now coming to the same conclusion.”

Anne Sommerfield reveals five places where we can also witness animals falling in love…

“The alps boast an extraordinary flock of greylag geese,” recalls Sommerfield. “Geese were the biggest surprise for me; they are particularly devoted partners and often pair for life. Being away from their partner for more than a few minutes is extremely stressful for them – clingy bunch.”

Watch Animals in Love at 6pm, February 1, on BBC1


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