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Most of us will never have the opportunity to see visit many of the most amazing creatures on the planet in their natural habit, but TV series in recent years have found ways to take us on journeys into the wild. The BBC has produced a new program called Spy in the Wild that sends robotic versions of animals into habitats to film critters up close. One episode will feature footage of an orangutan figuring out how to use a saw for herself without any prompting about how it's supposed to work. Take a look!
Apes have proved capable of amazing feats, ranging from sign language to kitten-care. Still, the wild orangutan learning to use a saw without any instruction or example is truly remarkable. According to the narration from David Tennant, she simply found the saw at a jungle hut and began working on a tree branch. The clip is an effective demonstration of the advantage an opposable thumb can give to any animal, human or otherwise. It's also a demonstration that competitiveness is not a purely human trait. The female orangutan clearly did not appreciate the edge that the mechanical orangutan had on her.
The spy orangutan is an impressive work of animatronics. The differences between the spy and the real creature are fairly obvious to pick out when the two are side by side, but the fake could almost certainly pass for a real orangutan to an untrained eye if there was no live orangutan for comparison. It's a sign of how well the spy orangutan was constructed that the wild orangutan didn't seem to find anything fishy about him. I might have to give a second look at any orangutans at any zoos from this point on.
Personally, I've never related to a member of the animal kingdom more in my life. Like this orangutan, I would probably want to give up and lie down after spending too much time trying to figure out tools. I definitely feel for her when the spy orangutan arrived on the scene to experiment with a saw of his own. I know I hate it when a robot version of my species starts doing my job.
Spy in the Wild is currently airing across the pond on the BBC on Thursdays at 8 p.m. The series will make its U.S. debut on PBS on February 1, although sadly without David Tennant's narration. Episodes will feature animals like otters, langur monkeys, squirrels, prairie dogs, polar bears, and even crocodiles in addition to orangutans, so they should be worth watching. Check out our midseason TV premiere schedule to see what else you can watch on the small screen in the not-too-distant future, and don't forget to take a look at our 2017 Netflix premiere schedule.