Curious Polar Bears Best Robot Videographers

By Jennifer Welsh | January 3, 2011 2:56 pm

Even the best-planned documentaries can go wrong, especially when there are curious polar bears involved.

In this case, the BBC was spying on the polar bears of the Arctic islands of Svalbard for a documentary called “Polar Bear: Spy on The Ice,” but their spy-tactics could have used a bit of help. The cameras were “camouflaged” as icebergs and snow drifts, but that didn’t fool these curious bears, who caught on pretty quickly that snow and ice aren’t supposed to move that quickly.

The cameras worked just fine in in the -40 Fahrenheit weather–it was the bears who ripped the cameras to pieces, destroying about $200,000 worth of equipment. The documentary, directed by John Downer, aired on BBC One on December 29th, but you can see it here at the BBC’s iPlayer (sadly, UK only).

Related Content:
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80beats: Study: We Still Have a Chance to Save the Polar Bears
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DISCOVER: 20 Things You Didn’t Know About… Movie Scientists

Video: BBC via


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