Discovery Channel Getting Up Close and Personal With Penguins (Exclusive)

Filmmaker John Downer uses animatronic cameras disguised as life-size penguins to get footage of the animals for the BBC co-production.
Discovery/BBC/John Downer Productions
"Penguins: Waddle All the Way"

Discovery Channel is giving viewers an up-close look at penguins in a new co-production with the BBC.

Penguins: Waddle All the Way, debuting at 9 p.m. on Nov. 23, is from filmmaker John Downer (Elephants: Spy in the Herd, Tiger: Spy in the Jungle), who is credited with transforming wildlife filmmaking by pioneering the use of spy cameras.

For the new special, Downer developed a new team of Spycams to get a close look at the lives of three different penguin species: emperor penguins in Antarctica, rockhopper penguins on the Falkland Islands and humboldt penguins in the Atacama Desert of Peru.

Using animatronic cameras disguised as life-size penguins, the team was able to infiltrate the protective colonies from an entirely new perspective and record the behaviors of the penguins. More than 50 remote-controlled cameras disguised as super-realistic penguins, chicks and even eggs allowed the filmmakers an opportunity to film the penguins both on land and at sea without being disruptive or getting noticed.

Discovery says the Penguin-cams swim, toboggan, waddle, jump and even lay fake eggs and that they look so real that even some of the penguins themselves try to befriend them.

Penguins: Waddle All the Way is produced by John Downer Productions for BBC and Discovery Channel. For Downer Productions, Downer is series producer, with Phil Dalton as producer. For Discovery, John Cavanagh is executive producer, with Katy Jones Garrity as coordinating producer.