• Animals Up Close with Bertie Gregory provides a more intimate and captivating perspective on the animal kingdom through close-up encounters and focusing on specific species and individuals.
  • Bertie Gregory and his crew faced challenges during the making of the series, including filming in difficult environments like the Antarctic and dealing with unpredictable wildlife.
  • The show aims to inspire viewers to appreciate the natural world, while also highlighting the negative impact humans have on the planet and showcasing examples of positive conservation efforts.

Nature documentaries are always enthralling to watch, but Animals Up Close with Bertie Gregory takes it to a whole new level. Bertie Gregory has previously worked on many nature and wildlife documentaries, including America The Beautiful and Seven Worlds, One Planet. Animals Up Close, which is now streaming on Disney+, seeks to provide a more intimate perspective on the animal kingdom.

As part of Animals Up Close, Bertie Gregory and his crew not only get as close up to animals in many different natural habitats as possible, but they also single out some specific members of each species to focus upon. This makes Animals Up Close a very captivating and uplifting National Geographic series.

RELATED: 10 National Geographic Specials On Disney+, Ranked By IMDb Score

Screen Rant spoke to Bertie Gregory on the making of Animals Up Close with Bertie Gregory and some of the inherent challenges he encountered in the making of the series.

Talking Animals Up Close with Bertie Gregory

Screen Rant: How did Animals Up Close with Bertie Gregory come about?

Bertie Gregory: So, I’ve been working on wildlife documentaries for a long time, and I found that my friends and family who weren’t necessarily interested in wildlife engaged the most with the kind of behind-the-scenes parts. And I thought, ‘Well, if that’s the bit that engages them the most, why don’t we use that get people even more engaged with the wildlife?’ So, the format of the show is a hybrid show. It’s part wildlife and part adventure, and we use them both throughout the show.

Was it always the plan to make Animals Up Close with National Geographic?

Bertie Gregory: Totally, yeah. I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of the National Geographic family for nearly 10 years, so it was the only home [for the show] for me.

Did the COVID-19 pandemic impact the making of Animals Up Close at all?

Bertie Gregory: So, we did 219 days of filming, and the previous show I did for National Geographic on Disney+, Epic Adventures, we started that show the week before the first lockdown. So, we had all kinds of challenges, and in the grand scheme of challenges, we were one of the lucky ones. So, that project was really affected, and we were a bit more in the clear on this new project, thankfully. With wildlife filmmaking, I always say its 99 percent problem solving, one percent filming animals, do we still had plenty of other challenges!

What were some of the big challenges on Animals Up Close that weren’t COVID-related?

Bertie Gregory: In the case of the episode where we filmed Antarctic killer whales, we were filming a particular type of killer whale called B-1s, and there’s only 100 of them in existence. They work together as a family to locate seals that are resting on pieces of ice, and they work together as a team to create a wave with their bodies that washes the seal off the ice float into the water so they can then catch them. It’s an amazing piece of animal intelligence, and because they’re looking for seals resting on ice, that’s a very challenging environment to push a boat through, because boats don’t tend to like ice very much.

We were using a 75 foot boat and an amazing boat crew to try to keep up with these killer whales while they were on the hunt, and that often involved pushing through lots of ice. A couple of times, we did get stuck, which was a little nerve-wracking, because if you imagine that the ice is sort of like a jigsaw piece, and the wind and the current are always moving those pieces, and sort of trapping you for a while, and then it opens up and lets you out and then traps you again. So, I love this series because I get to film amazing animals, and the other highlight is getting to work with great people, and we had a great boat crew that always kept us safe and managed to get us out of the ice jams.

Animals Up Close with Bertie Orca whale pic

What else would you say were some of the most memorable parts of the making of Animals Up Close for you?

Bertie Gregory: So, the first episode is called “Patagonia Pumas”, and we weren’t just trying to film a lot of animals, we were trying one particular one called Pataka, and when I first met her four years ago, she was a little fluffy cub that was entirely reliant on her mother to survive. Four years on, I went to go and check on her and see how she was doing. Her chances of survival were not huge, but we were relieved to find that not only had she survived, but she’s now transformed from this bumbling little cub to a mother herself, and she now has two of her own cubs. We spent 51 days on that episode, which was the longest filming period of any of the shows, and we followed the highs and lows of her life.

Everyone thinks that predators have it easy and prey have it hard, but these pumas, their lives are so dangerous. She was constantly dealing with incredible struggles, she had to defend her cubs from a male puma that was twice her body weight, and her primary food is a Wanaka, which is like a big, wild llama, and they’re incredibly fierce. If you imagine that they’re like a camel with no hump that’s on a lot of steroids and has a really bad temper, she’s got to take one of those down every seven to fourteen days. Watching an animal literally risk their life to find food is nerve-wracking enough, but when you’ve known that animal since it was a cub, it makes it all the more emotional to follow her highs and lows.

We found on the making of Epic Adventures, we had the most epic, intimate stories when we were following individual animals and families, rather than these big gatherings. So, that’s what we’re really leaning into in Animals Up Close, we’re following the highs and lows of individual animals and individual families. We found that that was the way to really reveal the magic of the natural world. For example, on our wild dogs episode, we were following one pack for our entire shoot.

There were 11 adults in the pack and they were looking after 14 tiny little pups, and these pups are unbelievably cute. The 11 adults we knew as individuals, and we were working with a scientist who helped identify them, and we named them, and we did that not because it’s a Disney show, but because it helped us film them. Each of those individuals has a unique white-pattern coat, and it’s like a fingerprint, so that’s how we’d tell them apart, and using that identification, we can then learn how each of them has a different personality, a different skill set, and use that to help us follow them and tell their story to the best of our ability.

With Animals Up Close, what is the biggest thing you hope viewers take away from the show?

Bertie Gregory: I think the thing I’m most proud of is I want people to come away just really excited about the natural world and stoked about the amazing planet that we live on, but also realizing – and we do this in every episode – that humans are doing really bad things to the planet, and it’s in a bad state. However, the good news is that in every episode, we celebrate an example of how humans are capable of turning this around so that those species can not just continue to exist, but to thrive. To me, the news is so full of doom and gloom, we need to start celebrating the times that we get it right as well as referencing times that we get it wrong. If you celebrate the wins, that’s how I think we can inspire more people around the world to turn this natural world challenge around.

About Animals Up Close with Bertie Gregory

Animals Up Close with Bertie pic-2

Bertie Gregory is back, and this time, the adventures are even more epic! Bertie takes us to the most spectacular corners of our planet — from Antarctica to Africa and South America to Asia – tracking down extraordinary animals to capture their daily lives like never before. Armed with drones, state-of-the-art cameras, and underwater tech, he and his team brave subzero seas, climb snow-capped mountains, and sleep suspended 120 feet in the air to reveal the challenges these animals endure, their fierce rivalries, and the threats they face on our changing planet.

ANIMALS UP CLOSE WITH BERTIE GREGORY shows all the behind-the-scenes moments he and his team face while adapting to unpredictable wildlife in remote environments where filming rarely goes as planned. There is no script for this unique series, but through it all, Bertie brings the audience with him every step of the way.

All episodes of Animals Up Close With Bertie Gregory are now streaming on Disney+.

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By mrtrv

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