THE ninth series of a hugely popular insight into life behind scenes at Chester Zoo returns this week.

Episode one of the new series of Channel Four's The Secret Life of The Zoo begins on Thursday at 8pm.

The show gives viewers a glimpse at the private lives of some of the world’s most endangered animals.

Cameras will once again lead viewers into the lives of the zoo’s 35,000 animals that visitors rarely get to see.

The new series is narrated by acclaimed British stage and TV actress, Tamsin Greig.

In the first episode, dominant male chimpanzee Dylan's 15-year rule is in jeopardy when the females in the troop prove a distraction, and a new generation of males take the opportunity to challenge the pecking order.

In the pudu habitat, one of the zoo’s sweetest couples, Serena and Odin, are expecting a new arrival.

These delightful animals are the world’s smallest species of deer and naturally shy – apart from big brother Lucas, that is, who seems intent on terrorising his new-born little sister.

In the aquarium, there's a battle for survival amongst the extraordinary Indian mudskipper fish, who can exist both in and out of water.

Gentle Danny is bullied by alpha male Arnie and blacklisted from the food supplies. Will he survive to fight back?

And there is tension among one of the zoo's most unpredictable couples, the Andean bears, which no amount of honey can diffuse.

The documentary was nominated for a BAFTA award last year.

The new series continues this Thursday at 8pm.

Join the conversation LIVE on Twitter using #TheZoo and by following @chesterzoo.

Chester Zoo is home to 35,000 animals and more than 500 different species, many of which are endangered in the wild.

It also supports field projects around the world and closer to home, preventing extinction of highly threatened species. More than two million visit zoo every year, making it is the UK’s most visited zoo.