Children’s BBC show CBBC Wild was broadcast live from the New Forest Wildlife Park on June 15th.
Dozens of local youngsters were invited to be the cheering audience and to watch the presenters meet various animals and birds living at the park, at Longdown near Ashurst.
The BBC crew spent two days setting up cameras, microphones and satellite dishes, before the popular CBBC show ‘WILD’ went on air.
Park owner Carol Heap said the experience had been great fun.
“The presenters were able to handle our tame barn owl Barney and also meet friendly fallow deer Dottie,” she said. “But I think the highlight was when we brought our orphaned baby wallaby Skye onto the set. She’s carried around in a makeshift pouch made from a drawstring bag, lined with her mother’s fur.”
Presenter Naomi Wilkinson was clearly impressed.
“Meeting and holding Skye the wallaby was definitely my most memorable experience of the day,” she said. “I can’t imagine anything more cute. I love the variety of wildlife at the park, and also the adventure element.”
Dottie the deer also proved a hit, especially with presenter Tim Warwood.
“She walked in front of the cameras right on cue, and we were hand-feeding her,” he said. “Animals are notoriously unpredictable but Dottie behaved like a real star.”
New Forest Wildlife Park General Manager Ed Heap was interviewed about identifying various deer species, and also introduced viewers to the park’s Eurasian Lynx colony.
“Doing live television certainly gets the adrenaline rushing,” he said. “But our wildlife behaved perfectly, and the sun shone, so I think everyone was happy.”
As well as featuring the animals, the show used the park’s 35 acres to show England tree-climbing champion Rhys Brace in action. Presenters also had to build a waterproof den from dead wood and leaves – against the clock.
Audience member Callum Wilson, 9, from Totton, had to be at the park by 6.30am with his mum Susan.
“The TV team wanted to make sure we were in position for rehearsals,” he said.
“But it was worth the early start. I loved seeing all the animals, and meeting the presenters. We recorded the show, so we could watch it as soon as I got home.”
Adam Alexander, 9, from Totton, also had an early start. “I was really excited and woke up before my dad,” he said. “But I didn’t mind. I really enjoyed it. A man signalled when he wanted us to cheer really loudly and wave our arms in the air.
But we had to be really quiet when the presenters were talking to the animal experts,” he said.
The TV show is touring the UK, looking at the different wildlife and sport activities encountered in different habitats, including lakes, mountains and forests.
New Forest Wildlife Park is involved in international breeding programmes for endangered species and also works with the RSPCA to rescue injured or abandoned animals and birds. The park is owned by Carol and Roger Heap, who are dedicated to wildlife conservation.
To find out more about the exciting activities at New Forest Wildlife Park visit https://www.newforestwildlifepark.co.uk
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