Veteran broadcaster Sir David Attenborough met one of Huntingdonshire’s speediest residents as part of a new series of one of his much-loved wildlife documentaries.
The natural history programme maker – responsible for landmark BBC shows such as Life on Earth and The Living Planet – visited Hamerton Zoo Park, near Sawtry, to film an episode of David Attenborough’s Natural Curiosities.
Ares, a 13-year-old male cheetah, will feature in the show, which will be broadcast on television channels Eden and Watch in spring next year.
Sir David had the opportunity to sit with Ares – who was hand-reared and is comfortable around people – while he filmed a piece to camera about how cheetahs are built for speed and are capable of running at up to 70 miles per hour in short bursts.
Visitors could catch a glimpse of the action, although the area was cordoned off to allow the film crew to carry out their work.
While they eventually attracted some attention, most guests were not aware that Sir David was at the zoo. During breaks in filming head keeper Katherine Adams was able to chat to him, and he signed books for a number of staff members.
Christine Bristow, education officer at the zoo, said: “I went round talking to some of them [the visitors] and when they found out the reason that we had roped off this little part they were really excited.
“It was a day of great excitement for us as zoo staff and keepers and a great honour to have him here.
“We were particularly pleased to hear it was his first actual contact with a live cheetah.”
Sir David joins Sir John Major, plus Michaela Strachan and Terry Nutkins from the long-running children’s television programme The Really Wild Show, which was broadcast from 1986-2006, as notable visitors of the zoo.