Stephen Tompkinson helps rescue Lucy the Giraffe behind the scenes of Wild At Heart

by Lisa McGarry

Filming Wild At Heart under the unrelenting heat of the African sun can cause even the most professional of actors to seek out a place to cool down between takes. Unfortunately one of the larger, four legged stars took it one step too far…

The cast and crew were amazed to find 9 year old Lucy the Giraffe had broken in to the Leopard’s Den set and had accidentally fallen in the swimming pool.

Producer Adam Friedlander commented: “We are not 100% sure how she fell into the pool but we think she may have been drinking from it and with her head being too low became disorientated and fell in.”

He continues: “The animals on the reserve roam free and we are of course very mindful of their safety and try to interfere with their habitat as little as possible. However, accidents can happen and it appeared Lucy had managed to squeeze through the fence before falling into the pool.”

The crew had to work in to the night in a desperate attempt to free her. They first drained the pool and built steps out of sandbags in the hope she would walk up them but abandoned the idea amid concerns that the animal would slip and fall over. Eventually the Fire Brigade had to be called out to help with the increasingly desperate situation.

The team then decided to dig a trench at one end of the pool hoping Lucy could be tempted out with some food. Eventually after three hours the rescue attempt finally succeeded and the giraffe was able to safely walk out of the pool unscathed.

To add to the drama Lucy is 14 months pregnant. Before he’d been tragically killed by lightening last year, Hamley, the show’s hugely popular giraffe, had fathered her offspring.

Stephen Tompkinson who plays Danny Trevanion on the show was on his way home when he was told about the situation and returned immediately to help with the rescue: “It was such a bizarre sight – as soon I walked round the corner all I could see was this great neck sticking out of the pool! She remained really calm throughout the whole thing and after draining the pool and digging a trench for her to walk up she emerged, all be it awkwardly, out of the pool unharmed.”