Wild Life at the Zoo, Wednesday, April 18
Jane Goodall. Photo: Craig Abraham
''Experience it all from a whole new angle,'' invites our narrator, Alan Brough. But, despite our trust in Alan being high, we were sceptical. How many docos have there been about zoos? Lots. And, apart from the public's seemingly inexhaustible appetite for adorable-animal stories, it was hard to see the point of making yet another. Quickly, though, Wild Life at the Zoo establishes that it does indeed offer a fresh perspective, particularly in refusing to anthropomorphise Taronga's non-human inhabitants. We get a real sense of them as wild animals, which is both refreshing and genuinely enlightening. This first ep deals with the transfer of Taronga's chimps to a new, lavish enclosure. It's a trip of about 300 metres, but a massive undertaking. Professor Jane Goodall appears to give the new chimp house her imprimatur and explains why environment is so important. The head primate keeper then introduces us to his charges one by one, explaining their distinctive personalities and the politics of the chimp community. It's fascinating, but there's nothing adorable about it. The problems in the community that necessitated the new enclosure and the complex nature of the move create a genuine sense of tension. And with good reason. The transfer is full of incident, much of it nail-biting. And - despite the wild-animal and non-adorable nature of the chimps - they are so human-looking that the unfolding drama is sometimes hard to watch. It all makes for surprisingly compelling viewing.