ITV has commissioned a two parter on how the staff and animals at London Zoo are adapting to the Coronavirus lockdown.

For London Zoo: An Extraordinary Year (wt) (2×60’) Circle Circle Films and October Films have got exclusive access inside ZSL London Zoo and its sister zoo Whipsnade during lockdown, as its staff and keepers care for more than 500 species – from giraffes and tigers, to monkeys and meerkats.

The series provides a unique view of the Zoo, part of international conservation charity ZSL, from the perspective of its close-knit team of keepers and vets as they continue to care for the 20,000 animals in London’s Regent’s Park and atop the Dunstable Downs in Bedfordshire.

Each episode of London Zoo: An Extraordinary Year (w/t) shows how ZSL’s long serving zookeepers and animals are adapting as never before. In the Zoo’s 192-year rich history it only ever closed for two weeks during the Blitz and the series will lightly dip into some of the Zoo’s archive.

Matt Smith, Executive Producer, says: “London Zoo: An Extraordinary Year (w/t) we’ll see how one of Britain’s most well-loved and well-known institutions copes during these unprecedented times. With intimate access to the Zoo, its keepers and animals we’ll follow real life drama as it unfolds whilst recounting extraordinary nuggets of the Zoo’s rich backstory. We’re thrilled to be working with ZSL on this project.”

The series is commissioned for ITV by Jo Clinton-Davis, Controller of Factual and Sue Murphy, Head of Factual Entertainment. Jo Clinton-Davis says: “The story of what’s happening behind the scenes at ZSL at this unique moment is a fascinating and compelling one. The familiar world of the Zoo but as we’ve never seen it before.  And a dip into the Zoo’s colourful backstory at key moments will bring rich texture to this real-life unfolding drama.”

ZSL’s Director of Zoos and Engagement Rich Storton, said: “We hope that this unique journey behind the scenes at London and Whipsnade during these challenging times will give the public a real insight into the vital importance of ZSL’s work – and how much we need their support to continue working for wildlife.

“This new documentary will explore the most recent chapter in ZSL’s rich history of overcoming adversity: during its 192-year history, ZSL has survived two world wars and grown into a world-leading international conservation charity. The coronavirus pandemic has presented our dedicated team with a previously unimaginable set of challenges – we look forward to sharing this era-defining period with ITV viewers in the autumn.”

London Zoo: An Extraordinary Year (w/t) is a Circle Circle Films / October Films production for ITV. The Series Director is Barnaby Peel and the Executive Producers are Matt Smith and Emma Goddard. It was commissioned by Jo Clinton-Davis.

Jon Creamer

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