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The Zoo

Airs Wednesdays, January 18 - February 1, 2012 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

A gorilla at London Zoo in Regents Park.

Credit: Courtesy of Danny Horsfield

Above: A gorilla at London Zoo in Regents Park.

In "THE ZOO," the celebrated London Zoo finally opens its doors to television cameras, allowing unprecedented, captivating access to one of the world's oldest menageries. The Zoo's team of keepers and specialists guide viewers through the daily responsibilities involved with caring for their 15,000 animals, including routine feedings, teeth cleanings, autopsies and more. It's the animals, though, that are the documentary's real stars. The average day depicted in "THE ZOO" explores a gamut of emotions, from birth to death and from tragedy to joy.

Episode one airs Wednesday, January 18, 2012 at 11 p.m. - For the first time in 10 years the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has invited cameras into its two zoos — London Zoo in Regents Park and its country home at Whipsnade. Here 800 keepers look after 21,000 animals.

After a cold and financially grim winter the zoo's staff faces many problems — but they have big plans. They are hoping to breed gorillas and vultures; however, the situation gets complicated when the vultures tend to be murderous parents and their prize male gorilla falls desperately ill.

Episode two airs Wednesday, January 25, 2012 at 11 p.m. - Zoos no longer capture wild creatures. Without captive breeding programs, they would not have any animals to display. There are plans to breed Komodo dragons in Regents Park but the process is potentially very dangerous.

They have succeeded in breeding elephants at Whipsnade; however, there is a worldwide outbreak of a form of herpes that has killed young elephants, and in the last five years the zoo has lost three. A new elephant baby is due this year and the keepers are determined that all will go well.

Episode three airs Wednesday, February 1, 2012 at 11 p.m. - "Animal Conservation" is the new buzzword in zoos, and the ZSL spends 8 million pounds a year on conservation projects around the globe. To do that, the zoo needs to be a financial success.

While efforts to save frogs in the Caribbean and to protect the one-horned rhino and the bearded vulture in Nepal continue, the zoo is also looking for a new male gorilla. The previous male died and the zoo's flagship exhibit — one that helps pay for all the conservation work — is called "Gorilla Kingdom."

ZSL London Zoo is on Facebook, and you can follow @zsllondonzoo on Twitter. Watch Zoological Society of London videos on YouTube.

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