Inside the Animal Mind, TV review: 'Chris Packham's investigation needs more bite'


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The Independent Culture

Most nature documentaries choose to focus on a particular habitat or time of year. Inside the Animal Mind, a new three-part series on BBC2, got to the crux of our fascination with other species by instead attempting to answer a question that will be familiar to all pet owners: just what is going on inside that head?

This opening episode started with the senses which, according to presenter Chris Packham, are "the gateway to the animal mind". To a human, the ability to pinpoint the exact location of a small object hidden under 20 feet of water and a metre of mud, in driving rain and strong winds, would be supernatural. To search and rescue sniffer dog Fern, it's all in a day's work, and all she wanted in return was a chew of an old tennis ball.

This was just the first of the programme's several awe-inspiring moments. In Florida, Packham met a dolphin called Tanner, who, with his eyes completely covered, can use echo location to mimic the movements of a human trainer. In Indiana, he visited some particularly classy wolves who go nuts for a whiff of Chanel No. 5 and, in the Bahamas, swam with hungry sharks, using only magnets – aka shark Kryptonite – as protection.


These moments were spaced a little too widely between the procedural details of Packham's naturalist experiments for the taste of this lay man pet owner, however. We could have done with a sprinkling of Packham's Springwatch Bowie references to hold our attention during the boring bits. "Diamond Dogs", perhaps?