BBC Week

Operation Wild 1/3 (Operation Wild)

BBC

BBC One

Operation Wild sees animal lover Clare Balding and vet Steve Leonard join vet teams around the world as they undertake ground-breaking operations to try and save the lives of wild animals.
 
 
 
They’ll discover how pioneering human medicine is transforming the way we can look after animals and join the vets pushing animal medicine to the limits in some of the most remote places on Earth.

In the first of this three-part series, Clare Balding travels to the Wolong Giant Panda Base in South West China where vets are using high-tech animal medicine to try and save the species. Clare finds out about the human neo-natal techniques used to keep baby pandas alive and meets Zhu Xia; a panda rescued from the wild who needs an MRI scan to help diagnose what’s causing her unusual behaviour.

In Cameroon, West Africa, we meet a gorilla called Shufai; he was just a baby when poachers shot him in the arm. Shufai almost died but his life was saved by Rachel Hogan, who runs a primate sanctuary – and now he needs her help again. Recently, his childhood injury has been causing his wrist to twist, meaning he can’t use it and he’s in a lot of pain. A complex operation is planned to stabilize his arm with metal plates - it could transform his life. But when they X-Ray Shufai shortly before the operation the vets realise something isn’t right and Rachel is left to make one of the hardest decisions of her life.

In Okinawa, an island south of Japan, Clare joins a vet, Dr Keiichi Ueda who’s invented a way to give manta rays ultra-sound scans underwater and needs to carry one out on a manta ray under his care to discover if she is pregnant.

Steve Leonard is in India for an ancient kite festival that has unintended consequences on the wildlife. He visits the largest pop-up animal A&E on the planet, responsible for treating over 1,000 birds. In Laos he joins young British vet, Will Thomas, who needs to operate on a four-tonne elephant with a gun-shot injury. But first he needs to take some X-Rays of his injured leg – and the only place he can do that is at the local human hospital.

It takes more than just high-tech medicine to treat the biggest animals on the planet – these are stories of ingenuity, invention and dedication.

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