Animals With Cameras, a NATURE Miniseries

January 29, 2018
At the Kalahari Meerkat Project in South Africa, Gordon Buchanan shows the meerkat camera crew the specially-designed cameras they will soon be wearing.

At the Kalahari Meerkat Project in South Africa, Gordon Buchanan shows the meerkat camera crew the specially-designed cameras they will soon be wearing. From episode 1, premiering Wednesday, January 31 at 8-9 p.m. on PBS. Photo: Anne Sommerfield / © BBC

Animals With Cameras, is a new NATURE miniseries, premiering on PBS this February. The miniseries is the brainchild of Gordaon Buchanan, who has traveled the world as a wildlife cameraman for more than 20 years, trying to capture life’s most intimate and dramatic moments. But wouldn’t it be incredible to see the world from an animal’s point of view? Buchanan and a team of pioneering animal behaviorists do just that — with the help of the animals themselves.

The new three-part series journeys into animals’ worlds using cameras worn by the animals to capture never-before-seen behavior. Working with researchers familiar with these populations, the crew fitted the animals with tiny cameras custom built by camera design expert Chris Watts to fit on the animals unobtrusively and be easily removed at a later point. With these state-of-the-art cameras, the animal cinematographers take viewers into places human cameramen simply can’t go, expanding our understanding of their habitats and solving mysteries that have eluded scientists until now.

Animal Actions and Behavior Never Seen Before


Episode 1 (Wed., Jan 31, 8 p.m.) ventures to Southern Africa, where the collar-camera footage reveals newborn Kalahari meerkats belowground for the first time. While meerkats’ social lives have been well documented above ground, scientists know virtually nothing about their secret behavior inside their underground burrows. We also get a breathtaking birds-eye view of Magellanic penguins in Argentina hunting for food and learn about the impact these crucial hunting skills have on the species’ survival. Follow the treetop progress of an orphaned four-year-old chimpanzee in Cameroon and witness new behaviors, including weaving, washing – and chimp selfies!

In Episode 2 (Wed., Feb 7, 8 p.m.), the cameras capture young cheetahs learning to hunt in Namibia. Cheetahs are the fastest mammals on earth, and with their cameras, we see firsthand just what it is like to run and hunt at that speed. The cameras also reveal how fur seals on an Australian island evade the deadly great white sharks offshore, and help solve a turf war between South African farmers and chacma baboons.

In Episode 3 (Wed., Feb 14, 8 p.m.), deep-dive with Chilean devil rays in the Azores and witness their dizzying descent to the sea bottom. In the Atlantic Ocean, an unborn devil ray is shown kicking inside its mother’s stomach – a phenomenon never before captured on film. Buchanan tracks brown bears’ diets in Turkey to better understand why there is an overpopulation of these endangered animals in the region. And what will the cameras reveal about a team of dogs protecting flocks of sheep from gray wolves in Southern France?

“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.

“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.”

Animals With Cameras, A Nature Miniseries will be available to stream the following day via the NATURE website (pbs.org/nature) and the THIRTEEN Explore app (thirteen.org/explore). Visit the NATURE website to stream additional episodes, enjoy filmmaker interviews, teacher’s guides, and more. Join the conversation and connect with other Nature fans on Facebook (facebook.com/PBSNature) and Twitter (@PBSNature).

Gordon Buchanan waits to deploy a "Tow-cam" on a devil ray

Gordon Buchanan waits to deploy a “Tow-cam” on a devil ray, near the Azores. The camera was designed to be towed behind the ray and was encased in a foam housing so it would float to the surface after detaching (after a few hours). From episode 3, premiering Wednesday, February 14 at 8-9 p.m. on PBS. Photo © Gordon Buchanan.