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"Surfing Godzillas" And Puma Reunions Among Bertie Gregory's "Animals Up Close" Highlights

Gregory has known Petaka the puma since she was a cub, but now she has offspring of her own.

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Rachael Funnell

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Rachael Funnell

Writer & Senior Digital Producer

Rachael is a writer and digital content producer at IFLScience with a Zoology degree from the University of Southampton, UK, and a nose for novelty animal stories.

Writer & Senior Digital Producer

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In Patagonia, Gregory and his team were able to record a behavior between a puma and some sheep dogs that's never been caught on camera before.

Image credit: National Geographic

A reunion with a puma named Petaka and a perilous time beneath the waves filming mini “surfing Godzillas” are among the highlights of wildlife filmmaker, presenter, and National Geographic explorer Bertie Gregory’s new series, Animals Up Close. The series set out to focus on the lives of individual animals to get a comprehensive view of what life is like for some of Earth’s most curious creatures, and the resulting footage includes never-before-seen behaviors.

Bertie Gregory’s honest depictions of the highs and lows of wildlife filmmaking made him a global hit on social media. Working with National Geographic, his approach brings viewers behind the lens to get a better idea of what it’s really like going out into the field to film some of Earth’s most amazing, and sometimes dangerous, wild animals.

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However, as Gregory told IFLScience, often it’s the humans that are the danger – not the other way around. 

Petaka, a puma Gregory has known since she was just a cub, is an example of this. Living in Patagonia as a “supermom”, Petaka has to take on dangerous prey, but the real threat becomes apparent when she gets a little too close for comfort to a farmer’s flock. That is... until some guard dogs raise the alarm.

Puma’s need to eat, but a story like this is a heartening one because the conflict between these proficient hunters and farmers – whose livestock they love to eat – has become a big problem for the survival of the species. In the past, farmers have hunted pumas in an effort to keep their livestock. Unfortunately, more often than not, any pumas killed are simply replaced by another puma moving into the now-vacant territory.

This first-of-its-kind footage is made extra dramatic by the use of thermal imaging to show the hunt attempt in all its glory despite being filmed in the middle of the night. Capturing it was no mean feat when you’re trying to pilot a drone in a landscape filled with above-ground obstacles.

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“Flying a drone at night is tough because you lose all of the visual references that you normally have, you know, where the mountains are, where the trees are – basically all the things you don’t want to hit,” Gregory told IFLScience. “You’re just kind of going off the little light on the drone, which actually we taped up so that it wasn’t a thing that animals might look up at in the sky. But yeah, challenging.”

You can watch it and more of Gregory’s adventures in Animals Up Close on Disney+ from September 13.


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