TV preview: Born In The Wild

Joy cradles a young kangaroo.
Joy cradles a young kangaroo.
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With the World Cup taking over much of the television schedules for the next couple of weeks, this little gem nestled within it is a welcome distraction for the animal lovers amongst us.

And when it comes to the animal kingdom, veterinary surgeon-turned-television presenter Mark Evans certainly knows his stuff, which is why it’s no surprise he’s found himself at the helm of Born in the Wild, alongside comparative anatomist Joy Reidenberg.

Between them, the presenters are exploring the weird and wonderful ways animals find a partner, mate and give birth - and you should believe them when they tell you it’s not as straight forward as you’d think.

In the fantastic series opener last week, Mark and Joy kicked off their investigations in Africa, where they explained how elephant mating is far from a private event, and how a 100kg baby can be delivered safely.

This week, the presenters pay a visit Down Under to uncover the reproductive secrets of some of the strangest mammals on Earth: the pouch-wearing marsupials.

They tell of how the kangaroo not only survives, but thrives in one of the driest environments on Earth, the Australian Outback.

Mark’s kitted out at a remote research station, and uses night-imaging cameras to hopefully catch wild male kangaroos track down fertile females. These animals will mate all year round, but typically tend to wait until the good weather arrives, because this is when food is more readily available.

Over in Queensland’s eucalypt forests, Mark also takes a look at the routines of tree-dwelling marsupials - koalas - to see how they have mastered gravity-defying sex.

Meanwhile, at a kangaroo sanctuary, Joy watches kangaroos mating, and uses ultrasound to monitor the progress of a pregnancy. Plus, she witnesses a new-born feeding from its mother’s teat inside her pouch.

Joy then heads to Adelaide, where she learns how critically endangered rock wallabies are being saved using foster mothers.

Just to crank up the ‘aww’ factor, Mark and Joy will be revealing how new-born babies the size of a paper clip are able to climb into their mother’s pouch, where they will stay keeping warm, drinking milk, until about six months of age.

To say that this must be a dream job for Mark would be quite the understatement. The former RSPCA chief veterinary advisor was a presenter and associate producer on Channel 4’s hugely popular Pet Rescue, before going on to front an array of documentaries. Not bad going to say his career on television was kick-started when he complained about an item on TV-am that made fun of fat pets, and consequently was invited on the show to give advice to the owner of an obese cat.

For now, though, prepare to be a lot more educated about the various mating methods than you ever thought you’d be...

BORN IN THE WILD, CHANNEL 4, SUNDAY, 8pm

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