Marie-Ève Potvin is a seasoned content girl who has made her mark in both cultural and scientific productions. Researcher, screenwriter, she recently directed the documentary Behind a caregiver’s door† retired animals† 100% animal and crazy about animals† are just some of the projects that confirm his love for animals. It is this passion that led her to the Miller Zoo, where she introduces us to A zoo like no other, which is in its fourth season.
A zoo like no other quickly established itself in the hearts of the people. What do you attribute that to?
People have fallen in love with Clifford and Émilie because they are real and they see how much they care about their mission. Cliff is funny, super creative, resourceful. He is a real sugar daddy for animals. It was fun to watch him install the games for the cubs. We feel his happiness to make them happy. Émilie is passionate, completely devoted to animals. She has the ability to put herself in their shoes, to understand them. He sometimes wakes up every two hours to feed an injured robin in his basement. All lives are important to them. Despite their success, they remained themselves.
In the series, we have access to the inhabitants of the zoo, as well as to all those who survived.
It’s a big part of their job and people know the least about it. It makes education possible. Before an animal is released, it passes a behavioral test. If he is too kind, he will not be released. The goal is for it to go wild again. More than a hundred animals are rehabilitated every year.
You are documenting living beings over which you have no control. How do you do it?
This is the hardest part because in TV we like to plan things. Fortunately, the team is extraordinary and adapts quickly. Two days of filming are scheduled for an episode. I always make a plan with what we want to photograph. But it often happens that in the morning we crumple the schedule and follow what happens. A bear’s veterinary intervention is difficult to assess because it is unclear how long it will take to get him through the narrow gate or put him to sleep. The same goes for a tapir birth. There is always the unexpected in the daily life of the zoo. We also need to give the animals time to tame us. It is a time when nothing happens, but what is essential.
Are there any animals that are “kid kodak”?
Multiple. Opy Bears and Chibs are very curious. They always go see what Cliff is up to. When he set out a hammock in front of them, they immediately rushed into it. Louna the wolf was always happy. She loved being scratched on her stomach. Lemurs are my favorites. They are always willing† When we do an enrichment period they are nice and delicate with the cameramen, they give them kisses. We did yoga in their enclosure, they joined in. Most animals know that camera means reward! We film from afar or install GoPros for more shy, secretive or solitary animals. On set, we have always focused on the safety of the teams and the welfare of the animals. Nothing is forced.
In four seasons, you must have experienced privileged moments that were as sad as they were happy. Which ones caught your attention?
The day Louna died after surgery is probably the hardest moment. I am still moved when I talk about it. She was a golden retriever in the body of a wolf. When we left with the camera, we all cried. We took a long break. Everyone was affected by his departure. Happy times, there are so many! But I think it’s a great privilege to see Opy and Chibs come out of hibernation. There was a thick layer of snow and Clifford went to see if they were sleeping. He turned his head and gave us a big smile. The bears came out of their den. They were insanely stiff. A moment of pure joy, happiness.
A zoo like no other Monday 19.30 on TVA