Television wildlife documentaries and animals' right to privacy

Brett Mills*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines the BBC wildlife documentary series Nature's Great Events (2009) in order to investigate the ways in which such texts engage with (or ignore) debates about animal ethics, in particular, animals' right to privacy. Through analysis of the 'making of' documentaries that accompany the series, it shows how animals' right to privacy is turned into a challenge for the production teams, who use newer forms of technology to overcome species' desire not to be seen. The article places this analysis within the context of broadcasters' concerns over environmental issues, acknowledging that wildlife documentaries can play a vital role in engaging citizens in environmental debates. However, it is argued that the 'speciesism' which affords humans a right to privacy while disavowing other species such rights is one of the tenets upon which humanity's perceived right to maintain mastery over other species is itself maintained; that is, in order for wildlife documentaries to 'do good' they must inevitably deny many species the right to privacy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-202
Number of pages10
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 26 Mar 2010


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