Speed Bump is a Gunnison's prairie dog who lives in Wabash, Indiana. Gunnison's prairie dogs have a language that they use to communicate particular kinds of threats to the other prairie dogs. Photographer Vince Musi was shooting animal portraits for a feature story on animal cognition that appeared in National Geographic last March, and most of the animals he photographed were pretty cooperative. But not Speed Bump, who screamed at Musi for four hours straight. Musi tried everything to calm him down, and finally hit upon a rather unusual technique that worked.
Here's a series of five short videos narrated by Musi where he tells a little about each animal and what it was like to photograph them. There's Betsy (not her real name) the super-smart Australian shepherd, JB the giant Pacific octopus who wrapped his tentacles around Musi's wrist as he was trying to get a shot, a stinky marmoset named Momo, a clever ringtailed lemur named Aristide, an orangutan named Azi who communicates via touchscreen, and Psychobird, the deceitful Western scrub jay, as well as several other memorable characters. You can see the photo gallery by Musi here.
Photo by Vince Musi, National Geographic