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Bronx Zoo life returns for season 2 of ‘The Zoo’ on Animal Planet

Mert, the fan-favorite goose who patrols the Children’s Zoo, will reprise his role in the second season premiering on March 10.

"The Zoo," an unscripted show about what it takes to operate the Bronx Zoo, focuses on the care given to animals and the bond they form with the staff. (Credit: Discovery)

The staff at the Bronx Zoo has always believed their resident animals are stars in their own right. Now, the rest of the world knows it too.

Animal Planet’s “The Zoo” is back for its second season on March 10, after entrancing viewers last year with its behind-the-scenes footage and heartfelt stories.

“The reaction to season one was very gratifying,” said Jim Breheny, executive vice president of the Wildlife Conservation Society Zoos and Aquariums and director of the Bronx Zoo. “It showed people what goes on — the relationship between the animals and the people who care for them. And I don’t think we did it in a preachy fashion.”

Since the first season aired, visitors have flocked to the zoo in search of animals featured on the show — especially Mert, the beloved goose who has confidently patrolled the Children’s Zoo for almost three decades.

Despite heath issues that were chronicled last season, Mert is still very much a part of the crew and will be highlighted again in season two.

“People really wanted to know how Mert is doing,” said Lisa Lucas, executive producer of “The Zoo.”

Lucas said one couple came to New York on their honeymoon specifically to visit animals they met through the show.

“Because of that kind of response, we are doing some revisiting this season,” Lucas said.

But there is no shortage of dramatic, new stories to tell.

There’s the adorable baby snow leopard who struggled to crawl and needed physical therapy. The cameras follow veterinarians and zoo staff as they figure out how to keep the cub bonded with her mother while receiving desperately needed treatments.

“There is no telling whether the mother will take this baby back,” said Lucas. “We don’t know what the ending is going to be.”

Another storyline focuses on a kangaroo named Dave, who suffers from arthritis. The staff explores using cryotherapy to help his stiff joints.

A pair of Komodo dragons are also introduced with the hopes they will mate.

“Love is hard,” Lucas joked. “It looks like fighting but it’s Komodo dragon romance.”

Many members of the production crew returned from season one, bringing essential experience as cameras try to capture big moments without getting in the way of day-to-day life for the animals.

“We are staying true to our original vision to give people total access and be totally transparent about everything we do,” said Breheny. “They can film everything we do as long as it doesn’t impact the animals negatively.”

Breheny said he hopes the show can help demonstrate the work of modern zoos and aquariums which are often the target of criticism from different groups concerned about animal welfare.

“People have preconceived notions about zoos and aquariums,” he said. “I hope by inviting them to see what we do every day, they will see how zoos and aquariums have evolved.”

He said the television show also helps showcase the work of the Wildlife Conservation Society, which operates the Bronx Zoo, as well as the Queens Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, Central Park Zoo and New York Aquarium. The WCS also conducts conservation efforts around the world to help protect animals.

“We relate the animals here to species in the wild and situations they are facing,” Breheny said. “If we raise awareness, hopefully people will want to be engaged in conserving and saving species on this wider level of advocacy.”

Season 2 of “The Zoo” premieres at 9 p.m. on March 10 on Animal Planet.


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