The robot is documenting new behaviors never before seen on film.

By Andrea Romano
June 10, 2020
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A robot baby gorilla set up by a filmmaking team is definitely the cutest way to learn new things about wildlife.

John Downer Productions, a team that is part of the Spy in the Wild series on PBS, found some interesting new facts about silverback mountain gorillas in Uganda thanks to their unique spy camera, according to Matador Network.

The camera, one of fifty made to look like real animals, is shaped like an anatomically correct baby gorilla that uses a 4K resolution camera to “spy” on animals in their natural habitat without causing harm to the animals themselves, according to Matador Network. The “spy” was developed by a team of biologists, zoologists, and engineers who programmed intricate facial expressions and movements to simulate a real-life gorilla.

“Mountain gorillas learn a lot from each other by staring into each others’ eyes. Therefore, we designed the spy gorilla to be able to close and move his eyes so that when necessary, he could avert his gaze to show respect to the real gorillas,” said filmmaker Matt Gordon to PBS.

And they’ve definitely caught some fascinating behaviors using this innovative technology.

A video from the Spy in the Wild 2, uploaded in April and narrated by actor David Tennant, showcases the robot gorilla capturing a phenomenon that’s never been seen on camera: gorillas singing while they eat. Scientists call it a “chorus of appreciation” as the gorillas munch on vegetation, making noises that sound a lot like happy singing.

The video also shows how the gorillas’ diet can wreak some very interesting consequences. In addition to singing, the baby robot gorilla also captured how often the gorillas...well...flatulate. The video is not only fascinating, it’s also highly entertaining (particularly if you have a rather crude sense of humor).

In addition to baby gorillas, the scientists behind the show have also created robot beavers, turtles, koalas, otters, and hummingbirds, according to PBS.