In a forest in Senegal, a chimpanzee curiously glances at a bug-eyed bush baby – at least, that is what he thinks it is.
The creature could have had anyone fooled. It looks exactly like a African bush baby but for its single eye, which actually belongs to a highly sophisticated camera.
Sony BBC Earth’s five-part series Spy in the Wild explores the emotional dynamics in the animal kingdom through animatronic spy creatures who infiltrate families. The cameras have been placed in different locations such as Uganda, Antarctica, African Savanna, India and North America. They look exactly like the animals. The only give-away are the eyes.
“What they discover will change our perceptions of animals forever,” anchor David Tenant’s voice booms in the background as the chimpanzee licks the robot bush baby’s eye while examining its strange structure. “Perhaps they are more like us than we ever believed possible.” The series was premiered on Sony BBC Earth in India on March 5.
Each 45-minute episode focuses on depicting parenthood, relationships and mating behaviour among animals and birds, including wild dogs, crocodiles, prairie dogs, elephants, hornbills and penguins. In one moment, a herd of African elephants surround a baby elephant, who struggles to stand up in the mud. The little one is eventually helped by the female elephants. Capturing this beautiful moment is a spy egret bird, sitting on top of the large mammals.
Another tender moment is captured among a bunch of langurs in Rajasthan, who grieve over a motionless spy langur, imagining it to be dead. “Quite accidentally our spy creature is at the centre of something extraordinary, capturing emotions that have rarely been observed,” the voiceover declares as the langurs surround the mechanical creature.
The cameras also capture the competitiveness and turf wars that are common in the animal and avian worlds. Male Adelie penguins fight over pebbles to make nests for their female mates in Antarctica. “Females always remain faithful to their partners, but only if the nest meets their high expectations,” the narration plays out as a female penguin moves on to another mate with a better nest, sparking chaos in her colony.