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.
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.
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,