The Smithsonian Wild project is the result of five years of surreptitious photographs of animals in their natural habitats. Using motion-triggered cameras that are attached to trees or posts all over the world, they collected 201,000 images, so now you can see all these rare and unusual animals up close: the South American tapir in the Peruvian Amazon, giant pandas in China, the African lion in Kenya.
As William McShea, co-leader of the project, told Wired:
“Many animals leave virtually no sign of their existence, so camera traps are just a godsend for people like me. … It’s much better than looking at a handful of feces and wondering what dropped it. These images are like museum-quality specimens with collection dates, locations, species names and other veracious metadata.”
In a similar vein, “60 Minutes” recently aired a segment on British filmmaker John Downer, whose ground-breaking spy cams have captured hard-to-track animals — most recently the polar bear in the Arctic Circle. Because the cameras look like snowballs, they blend into the terrain and the bears are shown behaving as they would when they are totally alone.
You don’t have to be nutso for animals to be pretty awed by these.