Animal Academy

Sunday 7 December, 7.30pm

Hosted by Olympic Gold Medallist Sarah Ulmer and Willowbank Wildlife Park Head Ranger Jeremy Maguire, Animal Academy returns to TVNZ Family on TVNZ 6 on Sundays at 7.30pm.

This week, Animal Academy looks at microchipping with Animal Control Officer Kym Parnham. Sarah and Jeremy dive into Alois Wolloman’s underwater world of tropical fish; and our vet Deborah diagnoses an ear infection. Plus, Jeremy has a close encounter of the cute kind – feeding red pandas at Wellington Zoo.
Photo: Sarah Ulmer.

Sunday 23 November, 7.30pm

Hosted by Olympic Gold Medallist Sarah Ulmer and Willowbank Wildlife Park Head Ranger Jeremy Maguire, Animal Academy returns to TVNZ Family on TVNZ 6 on Sundays at 7.30pm.

This week, Sarah Ulmer and Jeremy Maguire make friends with Marine and Biscuit, two lovable sausage dogs and they also meet the O’Rourke brothers, a family of taxidermists. Animal Academy goes behind the scenes at a cat show with Gail Warwick, who is showing one of the world’s oldest breeds of cat, the abyssinian. Vet Deborah diagnoses a dog with cystitis and Jeremy goes diving in search of the elusive moray eel.

Sunday 30 November, 7.30pm

Hosted by Olympic Gold Medallist Sarah Ulmer and Willowbank Wildlife Park Head Ranger Jeremy Maguire, Animal Academy returns to TVNZ Family on TVNZ 6 on Sundays at 7.30pm

This week, Animal Academy hosts Sarah Ulmer and Jeremy Maguire meet Miss Bear the chow chow – the only dog with a black tongue. We spend the day with Penguin Ranger Jo Rapley and meet Jody Burgess who shows us his ranch of over 400 parrots. Pet vet Deborah performs a C-Section which brings nine little corgi pups into the world and Jeremy gets to see a sperm whale, a pod of orca and a humpback whale, all in one day.

Sunday 5 October, 8.00pm

New Zealand is a country of Animal Lovers. With nearly 800,000 dogs and 1.5 million cats, we have one of the highest pet ownership rates in the world. TVNZ 6 Family is delighted to bring New Zealanders a new family television series, hosted by Sarah Ulmer and Jeremy Maguire, for people passionate about animals – Animal Academy.

Sarah Ulmer gets to meet Jeremy Maguire’s dog Fyffe in this week’s episode of Animal Academy. They spend a day with Alf, who runs his own pet shop, and head to Kawerau to visit 11-year-old Jonathon Smith who keeps a 200-kilogram wild boar as a pet. Vet Deborah Simpson performs a dog hip operation and Jeremy gets hands on with some Madagascan lemurs and cotton-top tamarins.

Sunday 28 September, 8.00pm

New Zealand is a country of Animal Lovers. With nearly 800,000 dogs and 1.5 million cats, we have one of the highest pet ownership rates in the world. TVNZ Family is delighted to bring New Zealanders a new family television series, hosted by Sarah Ulmer and Jeremy Maguire, for people passionate about animals – Animal Academy.

Willowbank Wildlife Park Head Ranger Jeremy Maguire has always had an affinity for animals. “I started off with guinea pigs, rabbits and goldfish and graduated to a dog called Finn – a terrier,” he says. “Finn is still around at 11 years old, and he’s best friends with my own dog Fyffe. I have a few tropical fish – which are dwindling in numbers. But, of course, I have a massive collection of animals at work. My animals are more varied than anyone’s!”
He admits that he has pretty much landed his dream job when he got the role at Willowbank Wildlife Park. “I guess I knew what I was going to be when I saw the ad for it in the paper. I’ve always enjoyed being with animals and watched all the animal TV shows. I did the Parks and Recreation degree at Lincoln University, so I was always going to do something outdoorsy. As soon as I saw the ad for Willowbank Park Warden in the paper, I knew that that was what I wanted to do.”

Over the years, his work with animals has taken him to many amazing places, including the Galapagos Islands. “I went over there as part of a team assembled from people in New Zealand to live capture donkeys. Unfortunately, we didn’t catch any donkeys because the tranquilisers didn’t work! The donkeys just hee-hawed back into the forest!

Jeremy has also been to the Chathams to live capture weka to start a breeding programme. “We were more successful with that expedition than with the Galapagos Islands! We caught 13 weka, which was our quota. We’ve had some success with that programme too – we’ve hatched about seven chicks so far.”

So with so many to choose from, what is his favourite animal? “Fyffe is pretty special because he’s my dog. I really like Charlie the chimpanzee at Willowbank, and I like pigs too. Pigs are underrated!”

Jeremy has had a ball working with co-host Sarah Ulmer and says that they have more than a love of animals in common. “I love bikes – my mountain bike and road bike. I guess I have that in common with Sarah!”

This week, Sarah Ulmer and Jeremy Maguire meet Elle and Paul who keep Pukekos as pets; master dog groomer Shelia Morris brings out the brushes; and resident vet Deborah performs the complicated procedure of a dog speying. Plus, Jeremy swims with New Zealand’s own rare Hector’s dolphins.

Sunday 21 September, 8.00pm

New Zealand is a country of Animal Lovers. With nearly 800,000 dogs and 1.5 million cats, we have one of the highest pet ownership rates in the world. TVNZ Family is delighted to bring New Zealanders a new family television series for people passionate about animals – Animal Academy.

Hosted by Olympic Gold Medallist Sarah Ulmer and Willowbank Wildlife Park Head Ranger Jeremy Maguire, Animal Academy screens on TVNZ Family on TVNZ 6 on Sundays at 8pm.
This week Sarah Ulmer and Jeremy Maguire meet stunt animal trainer Karen Sadler, who trains animals that appear in commercials. The pair check out miniature breeder Karen Earl’s tiny horses and resident vet Deborah investigates a suspected canine cancer. Plus, Jeremy shows us into his world as we see Operation Nest Egg, designed to save our national icon – the kiwi.

Sunday 14 September, 8.00pm

One of the stars of Animal Academy is Christchurch-based vet Deborah Simpson who tends ailing animals and gives viewers plenty of helpful tips about their pets’ health.

Simpson says that the idea of working with animals has always appealed. “I’ve always loved animals, but it never occurred to me to be a vet until someone suggested it when I was 16 -and then that was it! The best thing about working with animals is that you’re working with great people who love animals too, and there is always a cat or dog around to cuddle or play with.”
Naturally there are very difficult (and sometimes dangerous) things to deal with as a vet as well. “The saddest thing about being a vet is getting to know owners and their pets really closely and then sometimes not being able to help or cure their sick or old pets,” says Simpson. “However, my worst experience would be in the UK when I worked for the RSPCA and got faced with a 5ft python that was rather cross due to its heat lamp burns!”

She admits that she was a little bit nervous about being on camera, but she’s really enjoyed her role in Animal Academy. “Taking part in Animal Academy was a really interesting experience, so different to everyday vet life. It felt very glamorous to be made up professionally before going to work. However, it’s very odd hearing and seeing myself on film. What was tricky was getting animals to sit still for all the repeat filming.”

So far, there haven’t been any disasters – but “it did take us (director, cameraman, soundman & nurses) ages scrabbling on the floor looking for a bit of bunny tooth I’d clipped so we could show it to the camera!”

Deborah Simpson also has a message board on tvnz.co.nz/animalacademy, so write in with your questions!

This week on Animal Academy, Sarah Ulmer and Jeremy Maguire are joined by Mac the Afghan Hound. Deborah operates on a cat bite abscess. Plus Jeremy heads south to meet some very rare and noisy little Yellow Eyed Penguins.

Sunday 7 September, 8.00pm

TVNZ Family is delighted to bring New Zealanders a brand new family television series for people passionate about animals – Animal Academy. Hosted by Olympic Gold Medallist Sarah Ulmer and Willowbank Wildlife Park Head Ranger Jeremy Maguire, Animal Academy screens on TVNZ Family on TVNZ 6 on Sundays at 8pm.

In this episode of Animal Academy, hosts Sarah Ulmer and Jeremy Maguire meet Rico the Beagle; bird rescuer Dawne Morton releases a rehabilitated hawk; and Gay Silby shows off her spectacular hairless Sphynx cats. Resident pet vet Deborah demonstrates how to clip a dog’s nails and clean its ears and Jeremy tries out dog power sledding with an Alaskan Malamute.

Sunday 31 August, 8.00pm

TVNZ Family is delighted to bring New Zealanders a brand new family television series for people passionate about animals – Animal Academy. Hosted by Olympic Gold Medallist Sarah Ulmer and Willowbank Wildlife Park Head Ranger Jeremy Maguire, Animal Academy screens on TVNZ Family on TVNZ 6 on Sundays at 8pm.

Gonzo the pug joins Sarah Ulmer and Jeremy Maguire on this week’s episode of Animal Academy, as they meet Michael Beaumont, whose research aims to control animals that eat 20,000 tonnes of New Zealand greenery a night – possums. They pay a visit to Gwen James the Bichon Frise breeder; vet Deborah improves a kitten’s quality of life with a leg amputation; and Jeremy tries his hand at fly fishing.

Sunday 24 August, 8.00pm

New Zealand is a country of Animal Lovers. With nearly 800,000 dogs and 1.5 million cats, we have one of the highest pet ownership rates in the world and Animal Academy host Sarah Ulmer is no exception.

The Olympic gold medallist has always had a pet at her place. “My first family pet was Gideon the German shepherd and Gizmo our adorable family cat. Then there were brother and sister boxers, Georgie and Churchill and now my boxer, Scoobie who is eight months old.”
Ulmer says that Scoobie is absolutely part of the family. “He’s full of personality – he’s almost human-like sometimes. He’s just so much fun to hang out with.” Plus, he adds a little bit of extra excitement into her life: “Every time I take Scoobie for a walk it’s an animal adventure,” she laughs.

Ulmer admits she harboured a secret desire to work with animals as a child, but getting to Olympic gold-medal standard in cycling made fitting in anything else a bit difficult. “I wanted to be a vet but cycling sidetracked that one.”

However, in a dream world, she still thinks, “I’d be a French-speaking Boxer breeder/vet living in the south of France. Well, spending summer in France and then coming home to New Zealand for a good old Kiwi summer.”

In the meantime, she’s a small business owner and is having a ball working with animals and vets on Animal Academy. This week, Sarah, Jeremy Maguire and Bosco the Saint Bernard look into micro-chipping with Animal Control Officer Kym Parnham; Jeremy has a close encounter of the cute kind – feeding Red Pandas at Wellington Zoo; and Deborah diagnoses an ear infection.