As humans, most of us have been able to appreciate the beauty of African animals, either through photos, video footage, or by getting up close to them at zoos and on wildlife reserves.
It almost seems unfair then, that a leopard living deep in the jungle can’t experience that same joy — unless, of course, she’s looking at another leopard.
But what if wild animals were given access to a giant mirror? Would they be amused? Conused? Pleased with what they see?
A series of videos published by French photographer Xavier Hubert-Brierre explores this idea with footage of jungle creatures seeing their own reflections for the first time.
Dating back as far as May of 2012, the “miroir en forêt” videos feature a wide range of reactions from animals all over the jungle in Gabon, Africa after finding Brierre’s mirror.
A YouTube channel called Caters TV released a two-and-a-half minute compilation of Brierre’s original videos Monday, sending his work viral to the tune of almost 9 million views.
The video sheds light on the behaviours of many different species and individual animals upon being confronted with their own reflections.
Some, like this silverback Gorilla, show aggression towards what they see in the mirror, likely believing their own reflection to be a rival.
Others show aggression at first, but then begin using the mirror to play games and even explore parts of their own bodies that they could not previously see, as these chimpanzees do.
This elephant became aroused by what he thought was a prospective mate upon finding the mirror, as did this leopard who tried to “seduce” her own reflection over a span of four days.
Brierre also captured how the animals acted when the mirror was taken away.
Calling the chimps and leopards, who often stay late at night or even sleep next to the mirror, “addicted” to it, the photographer wrote on YouTube that “great was their depression” when the went in for repairs.
Their joyful reactions at the end of the video, when their mirror comes back to the jungle, say it all.
It seems as though some members of the animal kingdom like looking at themselves just as much as we do.