Paul O'Grady is swapping his Love of Dogs to find out what millions of holidaymakers on wildlife-based specialist tours have found out before him: South Africa is second to none for animal watching.
The Liverpool-based comedian has started a new uplifting, sometimes heartbreaking three-programme ITV series this month.
Paul O' Grady's Animal Orphans see the 58-year-old star travel to South Africa and Zambia to help hand-rear animals who have lost their parents in the wild and eventually return them to the wild.
Within moments of setting foot in a centre for orphaned penguins, he became "smitten" with a baby called Pog.
Like many not-so famous tourists on private journeys before, O'Grady loses his heart to virtually every creature he meets.
These include hippos, rhinos, cheetahs, an enchanting elephant calf or the three lively lion cubs he takes for a walk - and fears for his fingers.
Despite his celebrity status, O'Grady isn't afraid to get his hands dirty, to the extent of wiping an elephant's behind.
This is at a visit to an elephant nursery, where he assists with bottle-feeding and washing a six-month-old calf named Nkala.
Then O'Grady meets Ollie, a temperamental 18-month-old black rhino that even the comic wouldn't dare attempt to hug.
O'Grady also visits a cheetah sanctuary near Cape Town, where he establishes a friendship with a litter of six cubs.
Then he heads back to an animal rehabilitation unit close to Kruger National Park.
Here, he befriends a black rhino calf orphaned when five months old after its mother was shot dead.
O'Grady is also acquainted with a baby baboon that is being readied for release into the wild.
The first show was aired at 9pm on Tuesday (January 14) with further episodes to screen on January 21 and 28.
Copyright Press Association 2014
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