Full Episode
The Tropics | Spy in The Wild 2

The spy creatures investigate the wildlife that thrives in the tropics. They infiltrate a hippo pod, a nursery of red flying foxes, a gorilla sanctuary and the secret world of pygmy forest elephants.

Transcript Print

♪♪ NARRATOR: The animal worldis full of spectacle and wonder.

But what's it like to be right in the heart of the action?

To find out, our team of Spy Creatures goes undercover.

♪♪ They not only look like the animals they film, they behave like them, too.

♪♪ Armed with the latest camera technology... [ Bats screeching ] ...they are heading across the globe.

♪♪ [ Seals growling ] From the heat of the Tropics... ♪♪ the lands that lie in the North.

♪♪ From the islands of the Southern Seas... ♪♪ the snow and ice of the frozen poles.

♪♪ Our spies reveal the astonishing variety of life that thrives there... from inside their world.

♪♪ NARRATOR: On this assignment, our Spy Creatures join the animal families that dwell in the hot and humid tropics.

♪♪ In the tropical zone, life is abundant, and the dry and rainy seasons influence animals in remarkable ways.

♪♪ When the dry season comes to the mountains of Uganda, it brings cool nights and warm days.

As the morning mist clears, a glimpse of the wonders to come.

♪♪ For now, there's just one lone baby... ♪♪ ...his camera eye the only clue he's not as real as he seems.

♪♪ ♪♪ [ Gorillas hooting ] ♪♪ His aim -- to join this family of mountain gorillas.

But first, he must gain their trust.

One wrong move, and it could all be over.

[ Gorillas growling ] They are a close-knit family.

They don't take kindly to strangers.

He offers a hand of friendship.

Will they accept his introduction?

[ Gorillas grunting ] A promising start, but somehow, he must convince everyone.

[ Gorilla hoots ] She peers into his eyes to make a connection.

Gorillas learn a lot from each other this way.

But he remains as inscrutable as ever.

[ Tapping on glass ] Now it's the babies' turn.

Gorillas are very tactile.

A touch is an invitation to get to know each other.

But is it all too good to be true?

[ Gorilla roars ] ♪♪ The Great Silverback.

He won't be so easily impressed.

♪♪ [ Gorilla screeches ] Here, he's the boss.

Spy Gorilla won't be welcomed without his say-so.

[ Gorilla screeches ] A warning -- Everyone must stay back!

Can our spy win him over, too?

They await the Silverback's decision.

[ Gorilla screeches ] Until then, there's a line no one can cross... his arm, a barrier between them and the newcomer.

To show respect, our spy averts his gaze.

Decision made.

Spy Gorilla can stay.

Everyone can relax once more.

♪♪ In adults, chest-beating is a show of power.

For youngsters, it's an invitation to play.

♪♪ ♪♪ But games easily get out of hand.


♪♪ His look says it all.

♪♪ Best pretend it never happened!

But it's not the end for our spy.

He lives to film another day!

[ Spy Gorilla grunting ] ♪♪ The dry season has also come to Brazil.

The Pantanal is the world's largest tropical wetland, but at this time of year, it's drying out fast.

[ Birds chirping ] Life gathers in spectacular abundance around the few pools of open water that remain.

As well as egrets, caiman congregate by the thousands, some of the 10 million found across the Pantanal.

Such abundance attracts other predators.

Meet the world's first spy jaguar cub!

[ Caiman hissing ] Caiman are the jaguar's favorite prey.

But they have little to fear from a solitary cub.

Having basked in the sun, they're primed and eager to hunt.

Spy Caiman is ready and waiting.

He's now just one of the locals.

Wherever they go... he goes, too.

♪♪ It's soon clear why everyone is here.

Thousands of fish are trapped in the vanishing pools.

♪♪ But there is little oxygen in these waters, and as the day warms, it holds even less.

♪♪ The caiman is ready.

Catfish are coming to the surface for air.

♪♪ 'All good things come to those who wait.'

♪♪ It's a feeding frenzy.

♪♪ ♪♪ The morning feast lasts for just a brief moment.

Soon, everyone can eat no more.

Only now do the capybara venture out.

They're the world's largest living rodent and one of the most intelligent.

They welcome the dry land that's now appearing.

It's perfect for a spot of sunbathing.

But they must keep their wits about them.

♪♪ [ Jaguar growling ] ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Capybaras chirp ] ♪♪ Something else now piques his interest.

♪♪ [ Jaguar growling ] Jaguars kill the cubs of others.

♪♪ ♪♪ [ Jaguar growls ] But curiosity overcomes aggression.

♪♪ This isn't the only jaguar here.

[ Jaguar growling ] A rival!

♪♪ Jaguars are fiercely territorial.

♪♪ [ Jaguars roaring, growling ] The result is a draw.

Neither one is willing to risk his life.

Is this the reason for the brawling?

[ Jaguar growls ] A partner worth fighting for?

[ Jaguar growls ] In courtship, it seems the female takes control.

[ Jaguar growls ] Having put him in his place, she turns on the charm.

It's a rarely filmed moment of tranquility in one of the busiest wildlife spots on earth.

♪♪ Costa Rica is next to host one of the tropics' great events.

♪♪ Black vultures gather in anticipation.

This year, they have company.

A vulture that can film!

♪♪ ♪♪ The gathering begins on the third quarter of the moon, when the tides are at their minimum.

Olive Ridley turtles.

♪♪ Many traveled over 1,000 miles to get here.

♪♪ They're returning to the beach where they were born.

♪♪ When the tide is out and the surf is calm, they come ashore.

♪♪ [ Turtle huffs ] Where one leads, others follow.

♪♪ For those breeding for the first time, 15 years have passed sincethey hatched on this very beach.

Now they compete for a place to lay eggs of their own.

♪♪ This is the Great Turtle Arribada.

♪♪ ♪♪ 20,000 may arrive in a single day.

♪♪ Only so much can be seen from the air.

♪♪ As they keep coming, so do our Spy Creatures.

Spy Turtle is here as our eyes on the ground.

Turtles lay above the high-water mark, so first, our spy must climb the beach.

In water, turtles are effectively weightless.

Now flippers meant for swimming must haul huge bodies across the sand.

Spy Turtle is soon in prime position, ready to film their nesting techniques.

Her flippers become scoops... tools to dig a nest.

Now the moment she came for.

Each egg is carefully placed... ...up to 100 in every clutch.

She must bury them quickly.

They're what the vultures were waiting for.

Those already buried are beyond reach.

But turtles still laying must fend off thieves.

As things heat up, Spy Turtle needs backup.

A clutch of hidden cameras!

So far, the vultures have had little reward.

That's about to change.

There are so many turtles, every spot has been taken.

Eggs of previous visitors are batted away like ping-pong balls... ...straight into the mouths of the vultures.

[ Vultures hissing ] They finally get their reward.

But all is not lost.

Beneath the sand, enough eggs will survive to produce the next generation.

♪♪ As the turtles' epic undertaking ends, they return to the sanctuary of the sea.

♪♪ Around 50 days will pass before their eggs are ready to hatch.

♪♪ As the turtle eggs are left to incubate, Zambia is in the grip of its dry season.

♪♪ The vast Luangwa River is reduced to barely a trickle.

♪♪ Desperate animals gather, seeking the only available water for hundreds of miles.

♪♪ Everyone is feeling the pressure... ♪♪ ...especially the hippos.

The shrinking river has forced families closer together.

Rivals now live cheek by jowl.

[ Hippos growling ] Tensions mount.

What must it be like inside this pressure cooker?

♪♪ Spy Croc is about to find out.

It could be a dangerous mission.

Hippos and crocs coexist in an uneasy truce.

Enough to allow Spy Croc into their midst.

♪♪ The reason lies just beneath the surface.

♪♪ Fish are everywhere... ♪♪ ...attracted by the waste the hippos produce.

♪♪ With plenty of fish for crocodiles to eat, hippos have little to worry about.

♪♪ But in the middle of the pod, where the youngsters are found, croc attacks are still a real threat.

This is a job for Spy Hippo.

To succeed, he must give off all the right signals.

This is a high security area.

Here, the dominant bull watches over the mothers and young.

[ Hippo roars ] But he seems surprisingly amiable... [ Hippos grunting ] ...even letting Spy Hippo approach a baby.

Here, the youngsters can safely play.

For now, it's just a game.

One day, they'll be fightingfor the best spots in the river.

An intruder.

A male looking for females.

♪♪ The resident bull must defend his position.

[ Hippo growls ] It's wise to get out of the way.

[ Hippos grunting ] ♪♪ But Spy Hippo is right in the battle zone.

♪♪ It doesn't get riskier than this!

♪♪ ♪♪ The rival is unceremoniously dispatched.

[ Hippo roars ] As tempers calm, the hippos settle down, doing what they do best... ♪♪ ...sleeping... for up to 16 hours a day!

♪♪ While for some drought is a time of hardship, carmine bee-eaters relish this time of year.

[ Birds chirping ] The exposed riverbank provide safe nest sites.

♪♪ Spy Egret is at the heart of their colony... ♪♪ ...poised to capture a bird's eye view.

♪♪ ♪♪ It's the avian equivalent of an apartment complex.

♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ Back in Uganda, Spy Gorilla is now one of the family.

[ Gorilla grunting ] It's an opportunity to explore their intelligence.

Fruitcam is a replica of a local fruit and is totally non-toxic.

[ Gorilla grunts ] Being smart means they're fascinated by anything new.

Their social nature makes them happy to share.

[ Gorilla hoots ] But what about this?

Spy Grub -- one of our more outlandish Spycams!

[ Gorilla grunting ] [ Gorilla sniffs ] Whatever her baby finds must be checked out.


Not so much!

But the other spies are recording something truly groundbreaking.

[ Gorillas humming ] They've caught our gorillas singing as they eat.

[ Gorillas humming ] It's a chorus of appreciation -- the first time this phenomenon has ever been recorded among wild mountain gorillas.

[ Gorillas continue humming ] They not only sing for their supper.

Consuming 40 pounds a day is bound to have consequences.

[ Gorillas farting ] They live in a semi-permanent state of flatulence!

[ Gorillas farting ] [ Gorilla farts ] ♪♪ Back in Costa Rica, two months have passed since the Great Turtle Arribada.

♪♪ Only one lonesome turtle is still here, ready to record the next great moment in their lives.

♪♪ ♪♪ The eggs have finally hatched.

To find the sea, the hatchlings turn to face the brightest horizon.

♪♪ But there's trouble ahead.

♪♪ [ Birds chirping ] ♪♪ Frigate birds have traveled far for this event.

♪♪ For the hatchlings, it's a race against the odds.

♪♪ ♪♪ For the frigates, it's easy pickings.

♪♪ Spy Turtle is still at the nest site.

There's always one who's left behind.

♪♪ She can't stay here.

♪♪ She, too, must run the gauntlet.

♪♪ But the terrain is treacherous.

♪♪ Ahead, the aerial attack is relentless.

♪♪ But the urge to reach the sea is overwhelming.

♪♪ Now it's all down to luck.

♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ Another is lost.

♪♪ ♪♪ This is her new home.

♪♪ It will be 15 yearsbefore she returns to this beach to lay eggs of her own.

♪♪ ♪♪ In the tropics of South America, the rains have arrived, and the Amazon rainforest is undergoing a magical transformation.

♪♪ The daily deluge causes the mighty Amazon River to burst its banks and flood the surrounding forest.

Water levels can rise as much as 50 feet.

♪♪ For the animal inhabitants, life changes completely.

♪♪ To investigate, Spy Creatures are staked out everywhere.

♪♪ And they don't have to wait long.

♪♪ [ Monkey chirping ] Capuchin monkeys are territorial.

They make their feelings clear.

[ Monkey screeching ] But they've never seen a monkey quite like this.

[ Monkey screeches ] [ Monkey chirps ] Irritation turns to intrigue.

♪♪ And curiosity conquers caution.

[ Monkey chirps ] ♪♪ ♪♪ With the forest floor underwater, the monkeys must forage in the treetops.

Conveniently, it's the season when many trees bear fruit, a treat not just for monkeys.

[ Birds screeching ] Scarlet macaws come from far and wide to enjoy the harvest.

Spy Macaw is here to greet them.

[ Spy Macaw screeches ] [ Macaws screeching ] ♪♪ Gorging on fruit helps them reach prime breeding condition.

[ Macaws continue screeching ] ♪♪ Everywhere, love is in the air.

Even Spy Sloth seems to have gained an admirer.

As sloths rarely cross paths, she'll take the opportunity when she can.

♪♪ Her first move is to rub noses... ...followed by a mating call.

[ Sloth shrieking ] ♪♪ But this time, her calls go unanswered.

Never mind. There are plenty more eligible sloths in this forest!

Down below, a rather bizarre Spy Creature takes over... a replica of the animal it has come to film.

♪♪ Amazon river dolphins.

♪♪ It's an otherworldly meeting.

♪♪ As eyes are of little use in murky water, they've become tiny.

♪♪ Other senses compensate.

♪♪ Sensitive hairs on her beak react to the slightest vibration, while sensors in her mouth detect the electric fields of prey.

♪♪ The greeting is an alien sensory experience.

♪♪ Courtesies over, it's down to business.

♪♪ The best hunting is found among the submerged trees.

♪♪ ♪♪ Fish are drawn to the food and shelter the trees provide.

To catch them, the dolphins hunt together.

One flushes the fish from hiding... the other reaps the reward.

♪♪ It's a technique that rarely fails.

♪♪ ♪♪ It's a fish supper, served up among the trees that are usually high and dry.

♪♪ [ Birds chirping ] In Australia's tropical north, as the cool season arrives, the continent's greatest gathering of mammals occurs... [ Bats chirping ] ♪♪ ...100,000 of them in all.

♪♪ They are little red flying foxes.

♪♪ Mothers gather together in huge nurseries among the eucalyptus.

♪♪ Today, a new bat has joined them... [ Bats continue chirping ] ...a way of taking a closer look at life inside their world.

But first, Spy Bat must earn their trust.

She has been anointed with scent from the colony.

She can also mimic their friendship calls.

[ Spy Bat chirps ] Having passed inspection... she fits right in... ♪♪ ...capturing the most intimate views of a maternity roost ever seen.

♪♪ Mothers and their babies are never parted.

Even when they fly, there's a baby on board.

♪♪ They're caring and attentive, washing their pups to keep them clean and fresh.

♪♪ She won't miss an inch.

♪♪ At several weeks old,the youngsters never stay still, making bath-time a challenge!

♪♪ ♪♪ The mothers raise their young in wintertime in what should be the coolest months.

But today they must flap their wings just to keep cool.

Even Spy Bat joins in.

As the climate changes, winters are becoming hotter than ever.

Heatstroke is now a common threat.

Only the cool of evening brings some relief.

♪♪ As they leave, Spy Bat quietly follows.

Its wings are designed to dampen the sound of its motors.

It also has a low light camera, able to film at dusk.

♪♪ After the extreme heat of the day, the river is a place to cool down and rehydrate.

They have a novel technique.

♪♪ They belly flop!

Plunge-diving traps water in their fur, convenient for in-flight refreshment.

♪♪ But all this splashing attracts attention.

Freshwater crocodiles are moving in.

♪♪ All they have to do is wait.

♪♪ For the crocs, it's a matter of timing.

♪♪ For the bats, it's a matter of luck.

♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ There's always one whose luck runs out.

Refreshed, the survivors head off to find nectar.

As they feed, they pollinate millions of trees.

In this way, Australia's great eucalyptus forest depends on flying foxes for its survival.

♪♪ As the year moves on, the dry season comes to Borneo's mysterious forests.

♪♪ The creatures here now congregate around the life-giving rivers.

Most are found nowhere else on earth.

♪♪ Proboscis monkeys -- the most aquatic monkey of all.

They live alongside another denizen of the forest.

But this one is a spy!

She's here to meet whoever visits the river.

The group is led by a dominant male, easily distinguished by his massive nose -- used to amplify his calls.

[ Monkey honks ] So the button-nosed youngsters have some way to go!

[ Monkey sniffs ] The rest of his troop is made up of mothers and their offspring... [ Monkeys screeching ] ...including young males spoiling for a fight.

But there's only one who's really in charge.

[ Low honk ] ♪♪ Real orangutans are also drawn to the plants that thrive near the river.

♪♪ Any new orangutan always creates a stir.

♪♪ Best check out this one from afar!

♪♪ Now for a closer look.

♪♪ Perhaps wisest left alone!

There's yet one more unique animal to meet... [ Elephant growling ] ♪♪ ...the elusive pygmy elephant... ♪♪ ...the smallest elephant in the world.

♪♪ [ Elephant growling ] ♪♪ These surprisingly gentle creatures are rarely seen, but in the dry season,they visit the river more often.

[ Elephant growling ] Here, another spy awaits.

[ Elephant growls ] [ Spy Bird caws ] At this time of year, the river is their main source of water.

[ Elephants continue growling ] ♪♪ It's where they drink and bathe.

♪♪ Today they won't be bathing alone... assuming they let Spy Elephant join them!

[ Elephant trumpets ] ♪♪ They are notoriously shy, so it's a sensitive moment.

♪♪ But he's soon closer than ever thought possible.

♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ It's mission accomplished.

But who can resist meeting a baby elephant?

♪♪ ♪♪ The reception could hardly be more positive.

♪♪ A magical close encounter with one of Borneo's rarest inhabitants.

♪♪ Then, as quickly as they came... [ Elephant trumpets ] ...they're gone.

♪♪ But not quite.

[ Spy Bird caws ] There's a downside of being in the heart of the action.

Like all good Spy Creatures, he carries on filming.

[ Elephant growls ] [ Elephant trumpets ] But he's certainly seen better days!

In Uganda, the great Silverbackis making his bed for the night.

A moment to relax with family and friends.

[ Gorilla grunting ] For mothers, that's easier said than done!

[ Gorillas grunting ] But eventually, sleep comes to all.

Even our spy cam can finally stop filming.

[ Gorilla farts ] ♪♪ Next time...we travel to the lands north of the tropics, where life is governed by the changing seasons.

♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪