Reserved for Animals

Registered: ​31st October 1974
Duration: 29 minutes
Feet: 2608 feet
Board of Trade Certificate number: ​BR/E37758/3/11/79
Production Company: ​Harold Baim Presentations Limited

More Film Stills: ​at baimfilms.com (opens in new window)
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Woburn Safari Park 1974

Title and Credits:

Told by : Terry Wogan
Director of Eastmancolor Photography : Harry Orchard
Assisted by : David Engelman
Music: De Wolfe
Editor: Gerry Levy
Recordists: Ted Ryan, Max Bell
Produced and Directed by : Harold Baim


Traffic hurtles along one of England's main north south motorways, the M1. Exit 12 or 13 brings you to the lush green pastureland. A park of a new, imagination stirring world. The world of Woburn Abbey.

For over 400 years, it has been the home of the Dukes of Bedford and the home of the famous 400 strong deer herd, which has been here for over 75 years.

One of the country's famous stately homes, incalculable treasure is to be found within its ancient walls. In a thousand acres to call their own, the Pere David deer have room to roam.

They came originally from Peking's Imperial Palace. 75 years ago, the 11th Duke saved the strain from sure extinction by the timely action of bringing some of them to Woburn. The ensuing years have seen them exported to zoos and parks all over the world, even back to China, where they eventually re-establish themselves.

Priceless furniture, porcelain and a £10 million art collection adorn the magnificent rooms of the abbey.

But we're not only here for the deer. It's the kingdom reserved for animals within the abbey park that excites and intrigues, where nature is very nearly in the raw.

38 rangers cater to the welfare of the animals, whilst keeping a watchful eye on the sometimes unpredictable behaviour of the visiting public. Each highly proficient ranger is responsible to the Head Warden. They trained here by doing every conceivable job.

Five languages say welcome from the countries of those languages most visitors come. Almost 250,000 cars pass the pay as you enter checkpoint each year. A dog or cat in your car could cause catastrophe. A tiger would pull the vehicle to pieces to get to it.

The average number of visitors in each car is three and one third. If no heed was given to the notices, a car could no doubt wind up with two and three quarters people in it. Seriously though, you'd be surprised at the things some people do during the trip, in spite of the signs of do's and don'ts.

450 animal acres are serviced by almost five miles of animal viewing roads. There aren't many of us left could well be the cry of the American bison. Today, hunting them is restricted in all parts of the world.

Natives of America, six feet tall, and weighing up to 1900lbs, its massive head rests on its even more massive shoulders. Bison, or buffalo, though having large eyes, have not keen sight, but can be very dangerous when approached. Their sense of smell makes up for what they can't see.

As a young man, the hobby of general manager Eric Ixer was wildlife. Today it's his profession. Ever on the alert, his job at Woburn is a man sized one. Park security depends on a sophisticated system of intercommunication between rangers with each other, and all of them with the general manager and chief warden.

Through the use of code words, any kind of emergency can be dealt with. A car is on fire in the lion section, occupants can't get out, nor can they be left to burn. The situation is in hand within minutes.

With their distinctive zebra striped markings, ranger vehicles are always in evidence. With one eye on the animals and the other on the visitors, the ranger is constantly on guard.

The eland is one of the largest of the species of African antelope. Its attractive spiralled horns should be taken as a warning that it's not as docile as it looks. Just missed the patrol car.

The antelope family is a large one. Its members range from the royal antelope, which is no bigger than a hare, to impala, gazelle, and wildebeest. From the open plains and grasslands of Africa, strictly vegetarian and with their distinctive coats, they make really striking pictures.

We're just in time for the next session. Most of the time it's eyes down, and the only clickety click in the bongo area is the sound of hooves. A close relation of the eland, bongos inhabit the forest areas of East Africa. They're very rare. Very few have been caught and kept in captivity. There's a pair in Germany and those you're looking at now. And that's all there are in Europe. He's a one horned loser.

Money wise, the bongo is the most valuable antelope of all. Because of that, it's difficult to get a full house.

Good morning. He's ready for breakfast, over and out. I'm being informative, not rude when I say that their closest relatives are pigs. Here are a few facts about the hippo, which I know you can't wait to hear. Well, they're the largest freshwater mammal. They can weigh up to three tons. They can close their nostrils and ears, and the water would get in if they didn't. And they spend practically all day sleeping and resting, either in or out of the water. But when molested, I ask you who would want to? They will move into deep water where they can stay unobserved, with only eyes and nostrils just above the surface.

As you can see, they don't eat meat. That's why they keep their figures. They can live for 40 to 50 years and they mark out their territory with their dung. But we can go into that another time, figuratively speaking, of course.

It's good morning to the elephants too, trunk to tail, and vice versa, as they pass the giraffe on their way to their section.

These are African elephants. Catching camps, under the direction of Richard Chipperfield, son of the founder, operate during our winter. From these camps, new animals are acquired, brought into quarantine, then eventually sent to other parks, which now number 16, in different parts of the world. The parks are all part of the Chipperfield operation, and here they breed from original stock, holding the world record for the baby giraffe.

The head warden joins Eric Ixer and Jimmy Chipperfield on the left of the picture. The name Chipperfield goes back hundreds of years, when his forefathers took performing bears around English villages. Today, head of a worldwide organisation, Jimmy Chipperfield private jets his way from one of his animal kingdoms to another.

With an average height of 18ft, the giraffe is the tallest living animal. Long legs carry the animal forward with an uninterrupted ambling gait, which can accelerate into a gallop of 30 miles an hour. Very sociable, they have almost no enemies, but if attacked, and lions are the main culprits, a single, well-aimed powerful kick would put paid once and for all to Leo's longings.

Long though their neck is, it's not long enough to allow them to reach the ground without bending and spreading their front limbs. In this position, they are vulnerable to predators.

The female gives birth standing up. The baby is born feet first, dropping five feet to the ground. Within minutes, it's on its feet, taking sustenance.

Between 1740 and 1742, the Duke of Bedford planned the estate. It was not, however, until 1820 that the magnificent rhododendrons were established. In 1805, a landscape gardener called Repton added his know-how. A man who liked gardens to look natural, he had little time for formal approach.

Cable cars take you aloft. Looking down, you can see some of the most beautiful parkland in England. On a three day visit here, when she was 22 years old in 1840, Queen Victoria remarked how much like Windsor Great Park this was.

The gazebo in the middle of the lake has been here since 1750. Daniel Defoe of Robinson Crusoe fame, wrote of it on one of his visits.

From above, or from the ground, there is beauty wherever you choose to look.

There's a view of camels from the cable car. Let's get the record straight once and for all. The Arabian camel, or dromedary, has a single hump. The Bactrian has two. They're going to say goodbye to one of their mates. Ships of the desert, all.

Coax her into the container is the name of the game. Oops, nearly. Let's have another go. Contrary to popular belief, camels cannot go for weeks without water. It's the fat in the hump on which they live, but they don't start to sweat until the temperature reaches 104 degrees.

That's a laugh, and it's up, up and away to a new life among new faces in a new animal kingdom.

Look out. No problem, our ever ready ranger is at hand.

Why does a rhinoceros cross the road? Because he has the right of way. That's what it says, but they have to be steered back because they were going towards the gates. And if they got out, you can well imagine the surprise of a driver who encountered a four ton rhino doing 40 on the outside lane.

Rare and white, these rhino number only about 3500 in the entire world, and of these there are only some 30 in captivity. Spoiling for a fight. A ringside seat at the World Heavyweight Rhino contest. They're fighting for the favours of the female. There's always a woman in the case.

Can you imagine what would happen if he joined in?

They do each other a certain amount of damage, which is quickly put right by their seconds, the rangers, who eventually throw in the towel.

This speaks for itself. Remember I mentioned earlier the things people do? The sign says don't get out. Well watch this.

Do you know that this actually happens? I was told that not long ago, a family started to picnic in the lion compound. It's unbelievable. Thank goodness the rangers were at hand at once. It didn't turn out that it was the lion who was having the picnic.

Electric gates leading to Lion Country act as a safety lock. No two gates, either in or out, are open at the same time, so no animal can escape.

Lions chased the Ranger patrol. They know it well. They hope there's food aboard. On the viewing roads, cars and buses pass. The lions paid no attention. Lions regard motorcars as neutral. The people in them virtually part of the same object.

An obviously amorous male, and not so amorous female. They usually pair up for short periods, breed at any time of the year, and a husband is allowed to lionize any number of wives.

Named after a famous African plain, Serengeti Gap. Here's another thing visitors do. Window down. Absolutely asking for it. Can't they remember the animals are wild?

Woburn, in one year, bread 50 lines, but in the wild fewer than half the cubs born live to maturity. The lioness looks after her offspring lovingly, protects them fearlessly, brings them up carefully.

The lioness does most of the hunting. The males eat first. A shrewd wife, she knows how to hold her man.

When the bull eland puts on a show like this, it means he's annoyed. He's sharpening his horns for action. A sharpening makes it all the better to have a go at a patrol vehicle together with other animals who get out of the hey on the wrong side some mornings. Tremendous damage is inflicted on the ranger cars, as you can see, and the maintenance section is kept busy 365 days a year.

It's possible for an antelope, and he often does, to put its horns straight through the coachwork. The occupant of the patrol car has to jump, and quick!

The right of way is reserved for animals.

That's mighty considerate. And now for something a little more tranquil. A trip around Drakelow Lake. It's a rewarding experience, as it is for the sea lions who live here. Every time someone pushes the boat out, the seals follow for fish, which sometimes generous visitors throw to them.

Sea lions are thought to have evolved 25 million years ago. Though their limbs are reduced to flippers, their streamlined body enables them to move at great speed through the water. On land, their progress is ungainly.

The males have harems, and they fight constantly to maintain their individual dominance.

Chimp Island, on which three of them live.

The ever hopeful sea lions swim alongside, awaiting their next handout. It's enough to make anyone laugh.

Glum, the wildebeest can't see fun in anything. Alpacas, llamas, zebra and ostriches all live together on the banks of the lake.

When ostrich's neck, it's some neck.

These are crowned cranes.

If it broke into a gallop, this ostrich would reach a speed of 40 miles an hour. And that's with only two toes on each foot.

A new version of the Pied Piper.

African rangers were known as white hunters. The termis gradually being dropped in favour of the word ranger.

Head ranger Morrow changes his Pied Piper role for that of keeper of the Monkey Jungle, where he is also welcome.

Most of the monkeys came originally from southern China. They're members of a family called Old World monkeys. Almost all are rhesus. These particular primates enabled man to discover the RH blood factor. They live here free amongst the trees as they would in their native habitat. We're able to watch them in a natural environment.

Cats offer stroking, but I wouldn't recommend petting these, the largest of the big cats. They can bring down a fully grown deer by a single blow of a paw. You should see what they did to the tires of our camera car. Three went in an hour. Their strength is immense. We were thankful for the double steel mesh through which we were filming.

Well, he got off at the right stop.

Tigers kill by first knocking the animal down by a single blow. Or they pull it down with their claws. A bite in the throat or back of the neck, and it's all over by the eating. Sometimes a tiger will travel 20 miles to detect its prey by sight or hearing rather than scent. Stealing up to within 30 to 80ft, then a sudden rush from behind. It eats 40 to 50lbs of meat for a single meal, which can take it one and a half to 2.5 hours. Then it hides what's left for a future snack. Now we can see why car windows must be kept closed and why it's not advisable to get out.

At 12 to 18 months old, a tiger cub in the wild can bring down a deer, but many cubs are killed by being overambitious, and not picking on someone their own size. With the walk of a cat, the look of a cat, the habits of a cat, it looks extremely pitiful. But take it from me, you can't hold a tiger by the tail. 

[The End]

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