In an effort to capture never-before-seen footage of animals in their natural habitats, the BBC’s Spy in the Wild series created robotic versions of meerkats, monkeys, and other creatures designed to blend in with their real-life counterparts. The robots are remarkably lifelike, until you remove all of their fur and reveal their inner workings.

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Designed and built by a special effects artist named John Nolan, each of these animatronic spies, packed with electronics and servos, can take months to create—and even longer in the case of the life-size sawing orangutan. Each robot is specifically engineered and programmed to naturally recreate the movements of their real-life counterparts, but wireless remotes also allow filmmakers to manually control the camera-equipped spies so they appear to interact with the animals, resulting in some fascinating footage.

[YouTube via Laughing Squid]