Animals’ Right to Privacy Denied by Wildlife Documentaries, Says Researcher

Animals filmed for television wildlife documentary series are denied their right to privacy, a leading U.K. academic claimed in a report that emerged Friday.

Dr. Brett Mills of the University of East Anglia in Norwich, southeastern England, analyzed the behind-the-scenes footage of the BBC documentary series "Nature's Great Events."

The series followed animals such as polar bears, African elephants and humpback whales during epic annual environmental events. Mills examined the way in which the animals were filmed and concluded that animals, like humans, have a basic right to privacy that the documentary filmmakers ignored by filming their most intimate moments.

He said that the show's producers only considered the mechanics of filming, using the latest equipment to capture previously unseen natural events, and did not take into account the ethics of broadcasting an animal mating, giving birth and dying.

Mills' report, published in the latest edition of Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, claimed that this is speciesism and that in order to make a successful wildlife documentary, filmmakers must inevitably deny many species the right to privacy.

However Piers Warren, the founder of interest group Filmmakers for Conservation, disagreed with Mills' claims.

"How can you say whether an animal wants to filmed? No animal will understand the concept," he said.