Posted Tuesday 01 Nov 2022
Commissioned by Warner Bros. Discovery (Three), New Zealand, this beautifully filmed wildlife conservation series follows the vital work being undertaken by Auckland Zoo professionals as they rescue, rehabilitate and protect endangered animals inside the Zoo and out into the stunning wilds of Aotearoa New Zealand. Screening on Three Now each 30 minute episode follows some of the Zoo’s 200 specialists and their work - from helping to care for one of the world’s rarest frogs and the only alpine parrot, to saving one of the largest insects on the planet.
WIFT NZ talked to Wild Heroes co-creator, producer and director Juanita Edwards of Magnetic Pictures.
How and why did you get involved in this project?
JE: Brian Holland, co-founder of Magnetic Pictures and I have been developing this project for several years in partnership with Auckland Zoo and Warner Bros. Discovery New Zealand. Our aim was to create a wildlife Zoo series that knocked this genre out of the park in terms of the quality of production and strength of storytelling. Also to lift the lid on what it means to be a modern Zoo today and a wildlife organisation that is deeply committed to saving and sustaining our native taonga. Unique to Wild Heroes many of our stories take us out of the Zoo grounds to follow vital Zoo supported conservation projects in the wild. We also shine a light on the many hands coming together to do this work with the Zoo including iwi, communities and organisations.
What were some of the main challenges involved and how did you overcome them?
JE: Starting the production of a wildlife series in February of this year, in traffic light red was an enormous challenge. The health and safety protocols and practises we needed to develop and manage to protect our crew, Zoo teams (essential workers) and the animals was incredible…. if a Zoo professional does need to isolate for days there are very few people capable of covering their specialist skills so we had to be incredibly cautious. And then ultimately not show any of this on screen, how do we tell this story in a compelling way from a ’safe distance’, how do we not date the project that it was filmed during COVID. We learnt a lot and very quickly!
What do you think audiences will respond/relate to most?
JE: I hope they love the way we have tried to give them a very different experience from visiting the Zoo. The incredible drone footage that flies through habitats, takes us high into the canopy, and behind the scenes to reveal the inner working of the Zoo or macro lens filming that gives us the chance to appreciate animals as never before. I hope they see many of our lesser known or understood native species in new and exciting ways like skinks, geckos and wētāpunga. I think audiences will love the Zoo experts as much as the animals and will find their passion and dedication utterly infectious! Its been such a privilege to walk alongside these wonderful people absolutely committed to saving and protecting our most vulnerable animals.
Watch on Three Now, and on Saturdays on Three at 7pm.