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This BBC Crew Broke Protocol to Save a Bunch of Stranded Penguins

They stand by their decision to intervene.

When nature documentarians witnessed a bunch of emperor penguins get trapped in an icy ravine, they stepped in to help, according to the Irish Times.

But in doing so, they totally broke the unwritten documentarian code of never intervening in your subjects' lives.

Usually nature filmmakers let nature play out the way it's supposed to. That means letting the food chain do its thing, not stepping in when an animal is destined to die and generally being an observer and not a participant.

But filmmakers on BBC Earth's "Dynasties" couldn't help it when they saw penguin parents and their chicks stranded without a way to get out of the snowy ditch.

So they got some shovels and built a staircase.


According to the Mirror, they didn't explicitly lead the penguins out of the ravine, instead adopting an "if you build it, they will come" attitude.

Soon the penguins figured out on their own how to navigate the steps out.


The Mirror reported that director Will Lawson said the decision to help was unanimous. And they stand by their actions.

Executive producer Mike Gunton told the BBC that since the crew members didn't touch the penguins or disrupt their natural activities, he agrees with their choice to build the escape route.

"There were no animals going to suffer by intervening," Gunton said. "It wasn't dangerous. You weren't touching the animals, and it was just felt by doing this ... they had the opportunity to not have to keep slipping down the slope."

Gunton claims that even narrator David Attenborough agreed that they did the right thing.


"I was speaking to David about it yesterday and he said he would have done the same too," Gunton told BBC.

This is not the only time "Dynasties" has stepped in when it saw injustice for the animals. According to the Independent, staff also alerted vets after witnessing a lion that had been poisoned by nearby farmers.

Filming the rough world of real-life nature isn't for the faint of heart, and it's hard to fault the documentarians for listening to their hearts on these occasions.

We're sure the penguins are grateful too.

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