New behind-the-scenes doc filmed at Whipsnade Zoo during lockdown to air on ITV

Zookeeper Alex Pinnell with sea lions at Whipsnade Zoo. Picture: Will Amlot

Zookeeper Alex Pinnell with sea lions at Whipsnade Zoo. Picture: Will Amlot - Credit: Archant

A new documentary looking at life behind the scenes at Whipsnade Zoo is airing on ITV this month.

London Zoo: An Extraordinary Year is a new fly-on-the-wall series filmed at the iconic London Zoo and its sister site Whipsnade during the nationwide lockdown.

ZSL, the international conservation charity behind the two world-famous zoos, granted exclusive access to award-winning production company October Films within days of lockdown being enforced, with the team on site filming right through to the zoos’ emotional reopening on June 15.

The cameras followed the zoos’ teams as they dealt with the highs and lows of zoo life, while facing a global pandemic and capturing how social distancing measures created new challenges for zookeepers. From remote training sessions for vets on how to scan a pregnant okapi, to weighing kune kune pigs from afar, many usual processes had to be adapted, but lockdown also provided some positive opportunities.

ZSL’s chief marketing officer Nigel Campbell said: “ITV’s cameras captured a truly momentous time in ZSL’s history, the longest period we have ever been closed to the public for in our 200 years.

“We’ve grown from the world’s first scientific zoo into a world leading conservation charity, but the prolonged closures of our zoos was the most challenging time we’ve ever faced, and has put us under huge strain – this programme shows the incredible resilience, dedication and humour of our people, whose priority is always the animals.”

Tune into ITV at 9pm on Thursday September 24 and Thursday October 1 to catch London Zoo: An Extraordinary Year. For more information and to support ZSL’s global conservation work, visit