Get smart curated videos delivered to your inbox.   SUBSCRIBE
The Kid Should See This

The animatronic animals of Spy in the Wild

Watch more with these video collections:

Over 30 animatronic creatures were created for Spy in the Wild, the PBS and BBC co-produced wild animal mini-series, including a sloth, a warthog, a squirrel, an otter, a cobra, and an orangutan. Designer John Nolan gave each animal a hidden camera eye, and used his animatronic experience from movies like Where the Wild Things Are and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire to make them look as real as possible.

This project, however, posed a very specific challenge: The movements of these spy creatures needed to be lifelike enough to not scare the animals they were trying to film. In the Nature on PBS clip above, the animals’ electronics and servos are revealed: Getting Under a Spy Creature’s Skin.

And here’s how it worked in the wild: Spy meerkat helps babysit.

This is also fascinating: Robot ‘Spy Sloth’ Meets Real Sloth.

And behind-the-scenes with a spy otter, here’s how they made the creatures look furry and real:

The goal of the project was to not only entertain, but to capture new footage that might help advance scientific understanding of animal behaviors and how they’re connected to their ecosystems. From BBC One, director John Downer and producer Rob Pilley talk about making the series:

Related watching: A Spy in the Wild video playlist.

Next: Roboraptors and the Alarm Call Network and The Best Bloopers from Penguins – Spy in the Huddle. Plus: Animal cams.

h/t Laughing Squid.

This Webby award-winning video collection exists to help teachers, librarians, and families spark kid wonder and curiosity. TKSST features smarter, more meaningful content than what's usually served up by YouTube's algorithms, and amplifies the creators who make that content.

Curated, kid-friendly, independently-published. Support this mission by becoming a sustaining member today.

🌈 Watch these videos next...

How can glowing poop help bat conservation?

Rion Nakaya

One year on a forest trail in Northern Minnesota

Rion Nakaya

“I Put a Tiny Camera on My Cat for 24 Hours”

Rion Nakaya

Tapanuli orangutan, a new species filmed for the first time

Rion Nakaya

How many animals use this log to cross the stream?

Rion Nakaya

Tracking Los Angeles mountain lions with camera traps

Rion Nakaya

Annie and Grinnell, UC Berkeley’s Peregrine Falcon Parents

Rion Nakaya

Adorable baby hares in the wilderness

Rion Nakaya

Swarming monarchs and a hummingbird spy cam

Rion Nakaya