Spying on Wildlife With Animal Robots

- We look at every subject that we want to film and then we say, "Well, what is the best way "to get into their world?" It's an amazing moment when you realize that you are actually seeing some stuff for the first time. My name's John Downer, and these are my incredible team of spy creatures. Well, I suppose it all started when I started making wildlife films, and I wanted to have that kind of intimate perspective to get into the animal world and actually know what it's like to be an animal. Over the years, used technology to get more and more inside the animal world. As things have progressed we've moved from just using remote cameras disguised as rocks to where we are today, which is having, you know, these incredible spy creatures, which are able to do filming, cameras in their eyes, but they look like the animals and the animals will interact with them. The whole idea of, you know, using the robots, uh, came about when we made a film about penguins. For the first time, we thought: "Well, what if we made a penguin cam, "a living, moving, camera that looked like a penguin, "that was able to go into the colony "and start to get these incredible shots?” You can't explain it because it's a dream come true. I think part of the whole technique is to try and get inside the animals' minds. Understanding animal behavior is key to it all really. We lost one spy pup to a wolf. A spy tortoise was squashed by an elephant. And I think it's something about the fact that they look living; it makes them think before they actually do anything, and if it's not a threat, then they kind of... They quite like it. The challenges are… They’re innumerable, because everything is a challenge from the beginning to the point you get the film. The animals, once you get there, and once you're actually with them, they tend to be the least of all the problems. They usually do deliver because they do amazing things and if you've got the technology to be able to film close to them in their world, you know you're going to get something remarkable.