Fake Emperor Penguins Serve as Spies in New Documentary

One of the filmmaker's animatronic penguins dives through the water while recording the penguin colony it infiltrated.
Discovery Channel/BBC
One of the filmmaker's animatronic penguins dives through the water while recording the penguin colony it infiltrated.

They swim, waddle, toboggan and even lay eggs.

So, it’s no wonder the animatronic penguins used to record a new documentary on the real black and white birds left some people a little confused — and caught some great footage of the feisty birds.

Filmmaker John Downer, who’s been known to use spy cameras in documentaries about wild animals — including elephants, polar bears and tigers — hid his cameras inside realistic-looking penguins to create a 2-hour special for the Discovery Channel and the BBC.

In Penguins: Waddle All the Way, we get a rare look into the lives of emperor penguins in Antarctica, rockhopper penguins on the Falkland Islands, and Humboldt penguins in the Atacama Desert of Peru.

Using 50 remote-controlled cameras disguised as penguins, chicks and eggs, Downer and his team got an inside look at the workings of the penguin colonies.

The fake penguins were so believable that the real birds tried to make friends with them — and one even took a romantic interest in a spy.

Penguins: Waddle All the Way airs on the Discovery Channel this Saturday at 9 p.m./8 Central.

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