Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Clear Night 54° Clear
News >  Nation/World

Penguin chick is actually robot spy

A remote-controlled roving camera is camouflaged as a penguin chick in Adelie Land, Antarctica. (Associated Press)
A remote-controlled roving camera is camouflaged as a penguin chick in Adelie Land, Antarctica. (Associated Press)
Seth Borenstein Associated Press

WASHINGTON – The newest tool for biologists is the baby penguin robotic spy.

It’s pretty darn cute, and so convincing that penguins essentially talk to it, as if it is a potential mate for their chicks.

Emperor penguins are notoriously shy. When researchers approach, these penguins normally back away and their heart rate goes up. That’s not what the scientists need when they want to check heart rate, health and other penguin parameters.

So international scientists and filmmakers, led by Yvon Le Maho of the University of Strasbourg in France, created a remote control rover disguised as a chick to snuggle up to shy penguins in Adelie Land, Antarctica – the same place where the 2005 documentary “March of the Penguins” was filmed.

Researchers watched from more than 650 feet away.

The penguins didn’t scamper away and even sang to it with “a very special song like a trumpet,” Le Maho said.

Le Maho suggested that the adult penguins were trying to find a mate for their chicks and they were listening for a response, but researchers didn’t program the rover to make a sound.

“They were very disappointed when there was no answer,” Le Maho said. “Next time we will have a rover playing songs.”

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.