The Washington Post

BeetleCam captures extreme animal close-ups

If you could see a lion like this in real life, you’d probably be about three seconds away from being eaten by one. Thanks to photographers Will and Matt Burrard-Lucas, we can look lions in the eye without fear.

View Photo Gallery: The BeetleCam project was launched to get up-close photographs of wildlife in Africa. After the first version was nearly destroyed by a lion, two others were built — one with an armored shell. Burrard-Lucas Photography took them to the Maasai Mara wildlife reserve in Kenya and got these shots. More of the photographs and video footage can be seen at

The photographers didn’t have to worry about their safety when capturing these images, either — they developed an innovative remote-controlled camera on wheels, called the BeetleCam, which drives up to the lions for an extreme close-up.

BeetleCam is a DSLR camera mounted on a remote-controlled wheeled buggy — sort of like a child’s toy car. The photographers can drive it up to the lions while they remain a safe distance away. Their first experiment with a BeetleCam ended badly — it wasn’t fortified enough for a lion attack — but their second, more armored BeetleCam returned the snapshots in the gallery above. It shows the lions’ curiosity at this tiny intruder, but also captures them yawning, resting, and tearing apart their prey.

There’s video of the lions reacting to the BeetleCam’s approach (beginning about one minute into the clip below), and you can see why the camera needs tough armor — they swat at it with great force, bite it and sometimes run off with it. It should look familiar to anyone who has ever owned or seen YouTube videos of house cats’ quizzical reactions to the introduction of a Roomba.

Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts.


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