In China there are thought to be less than 2,000 pandas left in the wild. Babies are key to the survival of the species but the adults are notoriously indifferent to mating. Martin visits a hugely successful captive breeding programme in Chengdu where medical techniques developed for humans are being used to help pandas become pregnant. He also travels to Zoo Atlanta in the USA, where they're hoping their female panda, Lun Lun, on loan from her home country, is going to mate. And he discovers that nothing is straightforward about these adorable creatures. "The giant panda is charismatic, controversial, a puzzle but also extremely beautiful," says Martin. Closer to home, another breeding programme at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in Jersey is working on saving the future of the most threatened monkey in South America – the pied tamarin – which is at risk from deforestation in Brazil. It's a delicate process as the mother could well turn on the babies, causing them serious injuries. At Whipsnade Zoo, Behan, an Asian one-horned rhino, is nearing the end of a marathon 16-month pregnancy. Hunting for traditional medicine has seen the species decimated but now a combination of protection in Nepal and India and captive breeding mean that it may have a future.
Martin heads to the frozen forests on the Russian/Korean border in search of the Amur leopard. It's estimated that there are only around 30-35 left in the wild so captive breeding could be a lifeline for this species. Barbary lions are now extinct in the wild. At Belfast Zoo adorable cub Lily's mother tried to kill her just as she was taking her first breaths. Fortunately, the intervention of her loving keeper, Linda Frew, saved her. Three sisters – Effie, Zaire and Jookie – are Western lowland gorillas in desperate need of a mate at London Zoo. The zoo hasn't bred these magnificent creatures for over 20 years so there are high hopes that the arrival of dashing male Yeboah from France will change that. The ultimate ambition of most captive breeding programmes is to reintroduce animals back to the wild. Martin gets hands-on with a family of orphaned elephants in Nairobi, where a lot of love, milk and football is helping to keep these babies alive.
Martin Hughes-Games focuses his attention on the precarious fate of animals that have evolved on islands: when disaster strikes, there is nowhere to run. The Tasmanian devil is threatened by a disease which has wiped out 80 per cent of the wild population. It could be extinct in a decade so scientists are searching for a cure and zoos are desperately trying to breed them. The rare Mauritius kestrel has been saved from extinction, thanks to Carl Jones. The wild population was once down to four but over 10 years Carl has bred the species back from the brink. The beautiful Aye Aye faces a double threat; not only is its Madagascan habitat being destroyed, but it is seen by some locals as an ill omen and so is killed on sight. Martin follows the story of tiny Styx, whose life hangs in the balance.