UPDATED: May 18/20 7:48 a.m. EST
British commercial broadcaster ITV and UK-based prodcos Circle Circle Films and October Films will provide an inside look into how the animals and staff at the London Zoo are coping with stay-at-home orders amid the enduring COVID-19 lockdown.
London Zoo: An Extraordinary Year (working title) will offer exclusive access into the lives of the long-serving zookeepers at the ZSL London Zoo and its sister zoo Whipsnade as they care for the more than 20,000 animals during a pandemic.
Each episode of the 2 x 60-minute miniseries will document how the zoo’s staff and animals are adapting to the quiet isolation caused by the coronavirus crisis, from pygmy goats and gibbons missing the attention of visitors, to veterinarians devising new plans for scanning a pregnant Okapi while keeping social distancing measures in place.
In its 192-year history, London Zoo has only ever shut for any length of time once before, for two weeks during the Blitz, before being reopened at the request of the British government. The series will also include archival clips of that closure.
Circle Circle Films and October Films are coproducing the project. Barnaby Peel serves as series director with Matt Smith and Emma Goddard serving as executive producers. It was commissioned by Jo Clinton-Davis, ITV’s controller of factual, and Sue Murphy, head of fact-ent.
London Zoo: An Extraordinary Year is slated to premiere on ITV this fall.
“In 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,” said Smith in a statement. “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.”
“The story of what’s happening behind the scenes at ZSL at this unique moment is a fascinating and compelling one,” added Clinton-Davis. “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.”