Get a bird's-eye view of life among wild beasts in 'Animals with Cameras'

Posted by Chip Chandler on
"Animals with Cameras, A Nature Miniseries" premieres Wednesday.
Courtesy BBC

Go where no human cameraman can go and witness a new perspective of the animal kingdom in Animals with Cameras, A Nature Miniseries.

The new three-part series — premiering at 7 p.m. Wednesday on Panhandle PBS — journeys into animals’ worlds using custom, state-of-the-art cameras worn by the animals themselves. Capturing never-before-seen behavior, these animal cinematographers help expand human understanding of their habitats and solve mysteries that have eluded scientists until now. 

Wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan (Nature – Snowbound: Animals of Winter) and a team of pioneering animal behaviorists join forces to explore stories of animal lives “told” by the animals themselves. The cameras are custom-built by camera design expert Chris Watts to fit on the animals unobtrusively and to be easily removed at a later point. From this unique vantage point, experience the secret lives of nine different animal species. Sprint across the savanna with a cheetah, plunge into the ocean with a seal and swing through the trees with a chimpanzee.

“The chance to capture elusive moments, like a penguin’s underwater hunting habits or a meerkat family’s sleeping rituals in their underground burrow, was an extraordinary experience I never thought I would be privy to,” Buchanan said. “Thanks to the special cameras, we were able to answer some tough questions that scientists have always wondered about: why do devil rays migrate every summer? What personality of dog is most effective in protecting a herd of sheep from wolves? Why is there an overpopulation of brown bears in Turkey, when they are endangered elsewhere?”

“Never before have we seen such high-quality footage directly from the animal’s point of view,” said Nature executive producer Fred Kaufman. “This miniseries greatly expands our comprehension of animal behavior and this camera technology opens up new possibilities for discovering so much more.”

The one-of-a-kind sequences captured by the animals include several on-camera firsts. The cameras allowed for newborn meerkats to be shown in their burrow for the first time ever, as meerkat pups don’t emerge from the burrow until they reach three weeks of age. In the Atlantic Ocean, an unborn devil ray is shown kicking inside its mother’s stomach — a phenomenon never before captured on film.  

Animals with Cameras, A Nature Miniseries visits eight countries and features three different species per episode. Each episode will be available to stream the following day at pbs.org/nature and on PBS apps.

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