Videos: Watch as Robotic Animals Secretly “Spy” on Wildlife

Candice Gaukel Andrews June 22, 2017 2

In the PBS “Spy in the Wild” miniseries, more than 30 spy cameras disguised as animals were used to secretly record behavior in the wild. ©“Spy In The Wild,” BBC, PBS and Thirteen Productions, LLC

Camera traps, GPS tracking and radio-collaring are all tools that researchers have traditionally used to study the wildlife that shares the planet with us. But it seems there’s now another method—an ingenious one—that allows us to unobtrusively infiltrate communities in the natural world without letting our very presence alter them.

In the PBS Nature program miniseries titled “Spy in the Wild,” a co-production with the BBC and Thirteen Productions, LLC, mechanical creatures—in the form of various wildlife species—equipped with hidden cameras are employed for undercover missions. The remarkable robots, which remind me of Disney’s animatronic figures, were able to capture intimate and never-before-seen looks inside the family lives of some of our favorite and a few of our least understood animals.

Below, you’ll find three, short snippets from the program, portraying assorted animal colonies at various stages of life.

A mother Nile crocodile (whose snout you see to the left), checks on her new hatchlings, while the “spy” baby croc (top, center) gives us an up-close-and-personal view. ©“Spy In The Wild,” BBC, PBS and Thirteen Productions, LLC

In the first video, a mechanical-spy, crocodile youngster in Uganda films a mother croc with her just-hatched babies. Watch how she gets her little ones to water, revealing the very caring side of an animal most people consider to be fierce and intimidating.

In the second, a “spy” otter gives us private, eye-level views of an adult using a stone as a tool to crack shells.

In the last, you’ll see how gray langur monkeys in a temple in Rajasthan, India, deal with death when a robot baby monkey accidentally drops, and the animals assume one of their own has died.

Langur monkeys display grief when a spy camera in the guise of a baby monkey accidentally falls. ©“Spy In The Wild,” BBC, PBS and Thirteen Productions, LLC

All of the behaviors and actions that you’ll see demonstrate that as Earthlings, we have more a lot more in common than we may have thought.

And that’s worth a little mechanical eavesdropping.

Here’s to finding your true places and natural habitats,

Candy

 

 

 

2 Comments »

  1. Clare-Anne Edwards Canfield July 17, 2017 at 11:11 am - Reply

    Oh wow!

  2. Nellie Konijnendijk July 6, 2017 at 8:13 am - Reply

    Ahhh this is amazing!!! The best of biology and technology combined!

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