Have you ever heard of animal spies? No, it’s not some government initiative to eavesdrop on other countries. It’s actually a new technique that has been used by some scientists to better study some animals. Although these animals have been the object of study for many years, these ‘spies’ have allowed scientists to get a lot closer to them and discover some behaviors that had not been known to exist.
The way it works is by using the latest remote-controlled robotics technology to make a very realistic-looking animal robot. This animal is then strategically placed within the animal compound to see if it can earn the animals’ trust. What the scientists expect to gain from this is valuable information about how they form their relationships within the group.
The first one I saw, was a ‘baby pup’ that was infiltrated in the habitat of a group of wild dogs. The most important part of this experiment is how to get the dogs in the pack to trust this intruder. Packs of wild dogs usually attack other pups as a normal survival reaction. Packs of wild dogs do this to try and reduce the numbers of other rival groups and ensure survival.
The ‘pup’ is placed in a spot waiting to be discovered. The technicians and scientist make the robot display what would be normal gestures and body language to a group of pups. The pups get near this new pup, but what they cannot understand is the peculiar smell he has, this new pup doesn’t smell anything like the surroundings back there. Little by little, the spy gains the pups’ trust and then, does the same with the adults in the pack. So, mission accomplished!
The next experiment I saw was a robot monkey. The scientists were only looking to find out some new behavior patterns, but they were shocked at what the little monkey’s built-in camera was able to capture. The spy was sat in a small branch on the ground. As soon as the monkeys saw it, they went in to investigate.
Little by little, the monkeys started to get more curious and went to get a closer look. They sniffed, touched, and tried to pull at the monkey spy. At one point, one of the elders in the group carried the spy as if she wanted to nurse him. A couple of seconds after that, the unimaginable happens. The spy falls to the floor to everyone’s amazement. The monkeys started to gather around, and what followed next, was the greatest display that will melt your heart.