News from the Natural World: No animals lives were improved in the making of most wildlife documentaries.
New research shows that a huge number of wildlife documentaries don’t benefit any of the animals shown within. The great documentarian of the animal kingdom, David Ant-enborough, set out to investigate. He found that humans initially set out with honest determination to get genuine footage. But after a couple of days with nothing filmed and the money running out, the human film crews would get kind of desperate. Many of the human tv networks weren’t helping, either, by giving these filmmakers just days to capture footage. But what exactly do the humans do?
Some humans staged predator-prey interactions by putting M&Ms in carcasses for trained animals to sniff out. To get a shot of a bear sniffing what looks like a fresh kill, filmmakers might place some jellybeans or M&Ms in a roadkill carcass. In addition, one team attracted sharks to their boat by towing a fake seal behind it. The sharks leapt out of the water trying to capture the “seal”. Given enough attempts, they’ll stop trying to hunt a meal and go without.
No Animals Lives Improved
One show called “Wild America” not only staged many of the series’ most dramatic scenes but they did so at the cost of some animals’ lives. The human crew allowed a deer and a pack of wolves to be placed together in an enclosure for a “hunt”. Whilst some methods have improved animal abuse was more or less routine in the past. For example, a big cat chasing a rabbit might have the upper hand because producers had tied a clear string around the rabbit’s leg, slowing it down. One producer even admitted to letting an animal wrangler break a rabbit’s leg so the team could get a better shot of a predator in action.
And finally, there was the infamous Disney fiasco. Producers of Disney’s 1958 “White Wilderness” documentary decided, for some reason, that they needed to “prove” a lemming-related urban legend. That the animals routinely commit mass suicide when their numbers increase too much. So they bought lemmings from a group of Canadian kids for 25 cents apiece. Then they shipped them to the filming location and forced them to leap into the water. With camera angles skilfully concealing the filmmakers’ interference. It was a dastardly plan.