The BBC's new "Spy in the Wild" documentary series is based on introducing animatronic creatures equipped with spy cameras into animal communities to explore animal behavior and emotions up close. A preview for the first episode shows how the idea went from fascinating to heart-wrenching in mere moments among a group of Langur monkeys in India.
The spy camera is hidden in the eye of a very realistic-looking baby Langur. Even its face moves. The other monkeys seem to accept it as a member of the group, but one monkey gets a little too curious and ends up accidentally dropping the "baby." It lays motionless on the ground and the group goes into full-on grieving mode for what they think is a dead young one.
The video, narrated by David Tennant from "Doctor Who," is a heartbreaker. The Langurs gather around the spy monkey. They touch it and put their arms around each other for comfort. Tennant describes it as a sense of grief and empathy for one another.
"Quite accidentally, our spy creature is at the center of something extraordinary, capturing emotions that have rarely been observed," Tennant says.
It's hard to watch the traumatized monkeys, but it is a fascinating peek into their culture and behavior.
"Spy in the Wild" debuts on BBC One in the UK Thursday and on PBS in the US February 1.