The Zoo

7:00pm Sunday, February 14 on TV One

On tonight’s episode of The Zoo, Burma the elephant takes her first steps into life without Kashin; in Sumatra, Amy and Carly try to teach the orphaned baby orangutans how to climb trees; and a big decision is made about tiger mum, Molek, as her energetic triplet cubs start to test her patience (at 7pm on TV ONE).

For Kashin’s keeper, Andrew Coers, losing Kashin was one of the most challenging aspects of his job. However, he says, ‘celebrating Kashin’s memorial day and working with such a close team’ was a highlight for the year.

Coers’ undying passion for elephants is evident in all aspects of his life and it is one of his goals to travel to untouched parts of the world in search of these magnificent beasts. Two destinations he’s keen to see are Papua New Guinea, because there’s so many places that humans haven’t even set foot in, and Sri Lanka, to see some elephants in the wild, he says.

Helping to save the environment is also a passion of Coers’ and through is role as keeper he is able to educate the zoo’s visitors in environmental preservation.

“Encouraging people to care for the environment, and connecting them with wildlife by getting them up close and personal is hugely beneficial,” he says.

“Taking Burma out on walks through the zoo is always a real highlight for visitors too,” he continues.

Over the last decade, The Zoo has become an international hit, making New Zealand’s favourite animals world-famous.

The crew is based full-time at Auckland Zoo, giving the team the opportunity to bring viewers stories from the very beginning, with exclusive behind-the-scenes access. As well as all the local goings-on, this series also sees the team travel to the USA, Australia and the remote jungles of Sumatra in Western Indonesia.

Missed an episode of The Zoo – full episodes are available online. Go to tvnz.co.nz and click the ‘ondemand’ button.

7:00pm Sunday, January 24 on TV One

The local multi-award-wining series The Zoo returns to TV ONE tonight at 7pm, taking viewers behind-the-scenes at Auckland Zoo and bringing to life stories about the animals and their keepers.

Over the last decade, The Zoo has become an international hit, making New Zealand’s favourite animals world-famous. The crew is based full-time at Auckland Zoo, giving the team the opportunity to bring viewers stories from the very beginning, with exclusive behind-the-scenes access. As well as all the local goings-on, this series also sees the team travel to the USA, Australia and the remote jungles of Sumatra in Western Indonesia.

For primates team leader Amy Dixon, having the crew come out to Sumatra to Bukit Tiga Puluh, where they were helping to rehabilitate and release ex-captive orangutans back to the wild, was a real highlight she says. “It’s such a privilege to be able to spread not only what Auckland Zoo are doing for conservation but the real plight of these animals, seeing it first hand, and introducing the public to some of the faces of the palm oil issue.”

Dixon says this series has a strong focus on primates: “It tends to come in ebbs and flows depending on what’s happening during the year, but this year we’ve had some good filming opportunities, like the orangutans going to the USA, which was our biggest project, as well as Sumatra and some other smaller primate stories.”

Dixon is one of the key keepers at the Auckland Zoo and has dedicated her life to the animals and their development. “I wanted to be a zookeeper or a vet my whole life, but am very glad I chose keeping over vets as most of the animals are terrified of the vet.

“I’m a big cat and great ape girl, I love cheetah, tigers and servals,” she says, but her real passion lies with the primates: “I’m lucky enough to work with orangutans who have so much intelligence and insight, and it’s such a challenge to keep their lives enriched and exciting.”

Episode one sees the triplet tiger cubs as they turn one-year-old and celebrate with a big birthday bash; fearless lion keeper, Nat, comes face-to-face with the one animal she’s afraid of at the Zoo; and baby orangutan Madju gets a bouncing surprise, as keepers Amy and Carly prepare to head to Sumatra to help orphaned orangutans.

Missed an episode of The Zoo – full episodes are available online. Go to tvnz.co.nz and click the ‘ondemand’ button.

The Zoo – This Is Your Life is a unique opportunity to learn more about the much loved personalities who have appeared on The Zoo throughout the years.

This week, The Zoo – This Is Your Life pays tribute to New Zealand’s most famous elephant, Kashin. Turning 40 this year, Kashin is one of the oldest and most recognisable residents of Auckland Zoo. She has been affectionately dubbed the Queen Mother.

Follow the endearing story of a much-loved personality through interviews with her keepers past and present, fascinating archive footage, as well as stills and newspaper clippings.

Sunday 23 November, 7pm

Kashin is a New Zealand icon and without a doubt, New Zealand’s most famous elephant. The Zoo – This Is Your Life pays tribute to this gentle giant.

Turning 40 this year, Kashin is one of the oldest and most recognisable residents of Auckland Zoo. She has been affectionately dubbed the Queen Mother. Elephant keeper, Laurel Sandy, says she thinks Kashin earned this nickname because she is such a lovely animal.
“She has been at the zoo 36 years,” says Sandy. “She covers a whole generation. People come and ask if it’s the same Kashin they remember from their childhood, and they are surprised and pleased when they find out it is. Kashin is so people focused. She likes to wander over and say hello and put out her trunk. People appreciate having her so close and having their own special moments with her.”

Kashin arrived in 1972 from the United States when she was just four years old. Her early years were lonely and touched by tragedy. Kashin’s first companion, an older elephant named Ma Schwe, died when Kashin was only 14 years old. One year later, a very cute three-year-old elephant called Koru arrived. Kashin was naturally very protective of Koru, so it was a terrible shock to both Kashin and her keepers when Koru died from a mysterious illness only three months after arriving.

Although Kashin has always had a strong affinity for human companionship as she was partially hand-raised, elephants are herd animals and it is thought that she yearned for a friend from her own species. She finally got the elephant friend she always wanted when Burma arrived at Auckland Zoo in 1990.

Sandy notes that Kashin and Burma took a while to warm to each other. “Originally, for the first few years, they didn’t get on,” she says. “In a herd, elephants are naturally related to each other. It is quite unnatural for them to come together and create a family with unrelated elephants. Like us, they have their own likes and dislikes, and we don’t always get on with people when we first meet. It’s a lot better now. Burma was cheeky and wanted to play all the time, while Kashin wanted to relax and eat. Now, Burma is more grown-up and she can entertain herself. We have programmes in place to keep her occupied. If they are worried or excited, they go to each other for comfort and security.”

Over the years Kashin has struggled with major health issues, but a new health regime in the 1990s turned her whole life around. Sandy believes many of the zoo’s older visitors understand Kashin’s problems. “I think they can relate to her. They can sympathise with her arthritis and when she is feeling low because of her health.”

The Zoo – This Is Your Life is a unique opportunity to learn more about the endearing story of a much loved personality through interviews with her keepers past and present, fascinating archive footage, stills and newspaper clippings.

There is drama this week when Kura, the lioness, is injured in a fight. She has a deep cut just above her eye that doesn’t seem to be healing. The Pridelands team must venture into the lions’ den to stitch up the wound. Even though Kura is unconscious during this procedure, it is still a nerve-racking experience for the keepers, as she is likely to be grumpy if she wakes up!

Also this week, Laurel goes swimming with a one-month-old baby elephant in Thailand, and back in Auckland, Iwani the siamang gibbon and his family swap houses.

Sunday 5 October, 7pm

The multi-award-winning series The Zoo takes viewers behind the scenes at Auckland Zoo, to bring you more fantastic stories about the animals and the people that look after them.

This week, elephant keeper Laurel travels to Thailand and spends time with a hungry baby elephant. In the wild, a herd might have several baby elephants which could play with each other, so Laurel organises a few enrichment activities for the baby elephant, which gives it’s mum a nice break! Having only worked with Auckland Zoo’s elephants Burma and Kashin, it is great for Laurel to interact with new elephants and to gather knowledge that she can bring home.

The tigers, Oz and Molek, have to face the fact that it might not be first time lucky when it comes to starting a family, and keeper Christine helps the little cotton top Tamarins move to their new home.

Sunday 14 September, 7pm

This year, the multi-award-winning series The Zoo once again takes viewers behind the scenes at Auckland Zoo, to bring you more fantastic stories about the animals and the people that look after them.

Now in its landmark tenth year, producer Sharon Bennett enthuses “This series contains exciting new stories and new animals, but doesn’t forget the many well-loved personalities at the zoo who have entertained viewers of all ages for a decade.”
The big story this year is the dating and mating of Molek and Oz, the Sumatran tigers whose love affair ends in three extremely cute and rare cubs. The zoo has been working towards breeding Sumatran tigers for 10 years as the species is critically endangered.

Molek and Oz had to be slowly introduced to each other as Oz could have easily hurt or even killed Molek if things did not proceed with care. Carnivore team leader Andrew Coers explains “Oz and Molek’s mating was carefully planned to try and ensure a successful outcome. We had to monitor her cycles, giving them closer and more visual access to each other, and introducing them to each other’s smells.”

Viewers can follow the entire story from their inception to the cub’s first vaccinations. Bennett explains, “With our crew based full-time at Auckland Zoo, we have exclusive behind-the-scenes access, giving us the opportunity to bring you fascinating stories from the very beginning.”

The tigers aren’t the only ones breeding in this series. The keepers suspect that Umi the meerkat is expecting. and this is confirmed when three adorable – and unsteady on their feet – baby meerkats are spotted. It is the first time Auckland Zoo has been home to baby meerkats. The feisty triplets are given enrichment activities to keep them stimulated.

Elephant keeper Laurel Sandy travels to Lampang in Northern Thailand where she spends time at The Thai Elephant Conservation Centre and Elephant Nature Park. Having only ever worked with Auckland Zoo’s elephants Kashin and Burma, during the course of her stay, Laurel’s mission is to learn as much as she can so she can take that knowledge back to visitors of Auckland Zoo.

You won’t want to miss a moment of the action on TV2’s ever popular series The Zoo, returning Sunday 14 September at 7pm.