The Animal Park team has a new arrival when the hit BBC1 series returns for the summer. Megan McCubbin now joins Kate Humble and Ben Fogle, as the cameras return to Longleat Safari Park for a new weekday series in August 2022 and we get to find out about all the animals kept there such as tigers and giraffes. We'll also catch up with the keepers and a brand new koala baby, the first born in Europe.
Megan McCubbin of course is the stepdaughter of TV nature expert Chris Packham and has already joined him on previous series such as Springwatch and Chris and Meg's Wild Summer. She's now delighted to join Ben and Michaela in Animal Park.
"I remember watching Animal Park when I was young, so it’s surreal to be presenting it and helping educate people about the amazing animals that live at Longleat," she told us in a recent interview. "But luckily Chris is always a phone call away for advice. He’s been in the industry for a really long time and he’s a brilliant person to learn from!"
So here's everything you need to know about the 2022 series of Animal Park on BBC1...
Animal Park release date
Animal Park will be shown weekday mornings from Tuesday to Friday on BBC1, starting from Tuesday August 9 at 9.15am. Episodes will also become available on BBCiPlayer.
What happens in Animal Park 2022?
In the first episode of Animal Park 2022, Megan McCubbin is thrown in at the deep end when she’s tasked with luring the park’s tigers into their pond to encourage them to use their natural swimming abilities. But things don’t quite go to plan and before Megan knows it, mother and daughter Amur tigers Yana and Yuki start fighting over the meat placed in the pond to tempt them in!
"We wanted to try and give them enrichment to keep their brains and their physical health active," explains Megan. "But it was really interesting to see how they interacted with one another and how protective they were of the food! We also had a GoPro camera that the mum, Yana, ran off with. Luckily it didn’t get damaged!"
Also in this week’s episode, Kate Humble and Ben Fogle explore lion behaviour, help an elderly pygmy goat with a dry skin problem and get excited about a new koala baby born at the park. It’s all part of the fun for Megan, who says becoming a part of Animal Park is a dream come true!
More from Megan McCubbin on Animal Park 2022
Tell us about your role in Animal Park…
Megan says: "I’ve come into the show with a bit of a different angle. First and foremost I’m a zoologist, so for me it’s about getting all these little nuggets of really fascinating science out there, like the fact that an elephant’s trunk is actually the most sensitive organ in all the mammalian world. Throughout the series I want people to go, ‘wow, I never knew that!’
Are there any animals you meet during the series that particularly surprised you?
Megan reveals: "I had a great experience with the camels. I didn't know what to expect, but they're just brilliant. They're so funny, and they got such soft lips! I also hadn't handled any giant emperor scorpions before and it was incredible just to feel a one in my hand – they have the most beautiful exoskeletons that shine different colours in different lights. So it’s not all about the cute and cuddly animals, but also about trying to convince people how adorable scorpions are, too, because they are!"
How different was the filming process compared to the Watches?
"It was very different, but equally wonderful! Obviously with the Watches you often have to sit for hours and hours hoping that you're going to get a glimpse of an animal you’re searching for, even if it’s just a tail or a wing or a little hint or something! With this show, we knew the animals we wanted to film were going to be there, unless they were having a duvet day of course. So that made a nice change!"
You're a great representative for your generation. How important do you think it is that young people are represented in programmes like Animal Park?
Megan says: "It’s really important. You know, the younger generation is more motivated, knowledgeable and empowered about nature and climate change than ever, and it's brilliant to see young people being so passionate and taking a stand and using their voice to get their message out there. I'm very honoured to be part of that generation that's making a difference – or at least trying to!"
Do you still ask advice from Chris Packham?
"Yeah, all the time. We're very close. If there’s ever a question or anything that I want to run past him, then the phone is always there and vice versa. In fact, I've just received a message from him asking me to go and collect some red squirrel poo for a talk he’s doing! But he's been in the industry for a really long time and he's a brilliant person to get advice from. I’ll always continue learning from him!"
What is you favourite Longleat animal?
Megan says: "My favourite animal changes every day, but I’ve fallen in love with kinkajous. They’re the most adorable animals with the most gorgeous characters. To be honest I didn’t know much about them until I joined Animal Park. But they’re a lanky raccoon-like mammal with a teddy bear face and they live high up in the trees of Central America and some parts of South America. They’re nocturnal animals with these big eyes, and they’re also omnivores, so they eat lots of different types of fruit that they find in the treetops. What’s fascinating about them is that when you give them a grape, they’ll turn their heads upside down to eat it. Apparently it's to keep all the juice in their mouth, which is incredible. And when you see a kinkajou roll over to eat a grape, you can't help but melt!"
I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus Whattowatch.com. I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.
- Hannah Davies Writer
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