ABOUT AMAZING ANIMALS
Amazing Animals/Heythrop Zoological Gardens was founded in 1977 by Jim and Sally Clubb. The zoo was set up on an old sawmill yard and over the years has become one of the largest animal training centres for the audiovisual industry. Long before the zoo was built, Amazing Animals were actively involved in a wide range of animal training activities. Jim began animal training at a young age and Sally was a seventh generation animal trainer.
After working mainly in live performance and exhibitions, Amazing Animals began shifting towards film work in the 1980s. They coordinated, trained and supplied most of the animals for TV dramas such as “Old Men at the Zoo”, “Blot on the Landscape” and an episode of “Bergerac”. However, their major breakthrough occurred on the three-season BBC drama, “One by One”, based on the memoirs of the company’s vet, David Taylor. Earning a reputation for professionalism and expertise with zoo-type animals, Amazing Animals continued working with the BBC as well as other stations on various dramas.
By 1988 work was underway to create Heythrop Zoological Gardens, the largest custom-built private zoo location, specifically designed for the audio-visual media industries in Europe. Major motion pictures, such as Warner Bros. Pictures’ “The Legend of Tarzan” and “Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle”, had Amazing Animals’ action filmed at their onsite studio.
Heythrop Zoological Gardens, has a modern design but with the exaggerated outward appearance of a classic zoo. This means they not only care for their animals in line with modern scientific zoological practices but also provide a facility that is ideal for filming on location. Many TV programmes (“A Touch of Frost”, “Jekyll”, “Dalziel and Pascoe” etc.), commercials (“Fiat Panda”) and feature films (“The League of Gentlemen: Apocalypse”, the “Harry Potter” film series etc.) have prominently used the zoo’s particular features as a setting. Other clients such as BBC’s “Dr Who”, “Vestatech”, “Land Rover”, “Steve Leonard’s Extreme Animals” and “Drew Gardner Photography” have made use of the zoo’s English countryside location to film the animals in the zoo woodland and fields. (Read more www.amazinganimals.co.uk/heythrop-zoo/location-hire/
Notable major motion picture work in the 1980s included “Octopussy”, “Full Metal Jacket” and “Willow” whilst more independent productions included cult classics like “Whoopsapocalypse”. In the 1990s Amazing Animals provided their animals for such films as “A Business Affair”, “Fierce Creatures”, “Twelve Monkeys”, “Lost in Space”, “The Mummy Returns”, “101 Dalmatians” and “Mission: Impossible”. Moving into the 2000s, Amazing Animals highlights include “Stardust”, “Nativity”, “Sweeney Todd” and “The Golden Compass”. Credits from the 2010s include “The Look of Love”, “The Favourite” and “Jurassic World”. The 2020s has included working on such pictures as “Starve Acre”.
Around the time Amazing Animals began working in TV drama they caught the attention of the producers of children’s programmes. From their early days they worked at length with such celebrity animal specialists as Johnny Morris (“Animal Magic”) and Terry Nutkins (“The Really Wild Show” and “Brilliant Creatures”). A good number of children’s Saturday morning shows of the 1980s regularly booked the services of Amazing Animals, from ITV’s “Number 73” to BBC’s “Going Live”. Other classic children’s dramas included “Stig of the Dump” and “Grange Hill”.
Amazing Animals became the go-to people for natural history documentaries, working closely with such luminaries as the director/producer/presenter Martin Hughes-Games on a variety of celebrated projects in the 1990s and 2000s. They also worked with TV vet Steve Leonard on two entire series and also the legendary Sir David Attenborough on several different occasions, including his 90th birthday celebration in the Radio Times.
Their TV drama work hasn’t ceased either. From UK productions like “Silent Witness”, “The Power”, “A Christmas Carol”, “Father Brown” and “Peaky Blinders” to international series like “Cursed” and “Gangs of London” to large scale epic and global dramas like “The Great”, “The Witcher”, “The Crown”, “The Power” and Disney’s “Great Expectations”. Amazing Animals have been engaged for their specialised animal training knowledge. All the animals for the BBC drama series “Our Zoo” were trained, supplied and coordinated by Amazing Animals. Meanwhile an Amazing Animals’ have also been involved in many classic and current comedy series like “The League of Gentleman” and their rhesus monkey helped the comedy series, Peter Kay’s “Car Share”, for that particular episode.
Amazing Animals have worked with some of the most prestigious commercial production companies. Ridley Scott Associates has booked Amazing Animals’ services from the 1980s until the present day. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, John Perkins Productions and Partizan booked Amazing Animals for several of their best commercials. From the 2000s to the present day Pulse Films, Somesuch, Academy Films, Biscuit Filmworks and Blink have used Amazing Animals’ services to produce some of their most successful campaigns.
Many notable pop music videos with artists from INXS (black panther for “Baby Don’t Cry”) in the 1980s to The Prodigy (alligator and millipedes for the award-winning “Breathe”), Catatonia (monkey for “Road Rage”) and Bjork (alligator, python and piranha for “Alarm Call”) in the 1990s to Bat for Lashes (wolf for “Pearl’s Dream”) and Jamie T (monkeys for “Sheila”) in the 2000s to George Michael (zebra for “White Light”), Shotty Horroh (rhesus monkeys for “Monkey Business”), Sigur Rós (fox for “Ekki múkk”) Stefflon Don & Skepta (various animals for “Ding-A-Ling”), Clean Bandit (various animals for “Solo”) and King Creosote & Jon Hopkins (swan for “Third Swan”) in the 2010s to Jazmin Bean (goat for “Puppy Pound”) in the 2020s.
The demands of their regular day-to-day work on various projects would make it very difficult for them to take on a Zoo Licence. However, Amazing Animals enjoys interacting and being involved with the general public whenever possible. This is often achieved through their various roadshows and live events.
However, the company appreciates they have a special responsibility to their local community. This is why they do their best to work with their surrounding area as much as possible. Hitherto Amazing Animals does the following to help their local community:
- Wherever possible, Amazing Animals uses local traders, suppliers and produce.
- Amazing Animals’ basic work experience scheme (one week) has limited places each year for year 11 students and is restricted only to the taking on students within a 10 mile radius of their premises (this is NOT to be confused with their regular work experience programme)
- Amazing Animals supply roadshows and various exotic animals for local fetes and charities.
- Amazing Animals have a very limited number of times when they are permitted to open the zoo to the general public. Some of these visits take the form of visits by local charities, particularly children’s charities.
- Amazing Animals have always had an environmentally-friendly policy, aimed at recycling and reducing wastage.
- Amazing Animals opens its doors up to local artists and photography clubs.
We at Amazing Animals/Heythrop Zoological Gardens aim to provide the highest quality service for our clients and highest standards of care for our animals. We endeavour to continually educate ourselves in the latest methods regarding the use of animals in the media industry; seeking to raise our personal standards and the standards of our industry.