Experts at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park in Devon got more than they bargained for when filming for a major science event in London. A very close encounter with a 110-kilo tiger.

Male Sumatran tiger Fabi was being filmed for a starring role at New Scientist Live, which runs from Thursday to Sunday this week. Specialist video and drone company Soundview Media, based in Plymouth, had placed virtual reality cameras at the top of a tall pole to film the charity Zoo’s tigers grabbing some meat.

But male tiger Fabi decided to have a closer look at the tech, as these photos taken by Paignton Zoo regular Miriam Haas, show. And his intense predator stare was captured by the Soundview camera. Gareth Allen, of Soundview Media, said: “We go all-out to get the very best shots for our clients. But we’ve never had a tiger staring straight into the lens before!”

Soundview Media have produced a set of four virtual reality videos for the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust, which runs Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, Living Coasts in Torquay and Newquay Zoo in Cornwall. The Trust is joining other top zoos at the New Scientist Live exhibition in London at the end of the month.

The 360-degree virtual reality films feature tigers and crocodiles at Paignton Zoo, meerkats at Newquay Zoo and penguins at Living Coasts. The short films are part of the Trust’s contribution to a joint zoo exhibition stand.

New Scientist Live runs from Thursday 28th September to Sunday 1st October at the ExCeL centre, London. Said to be the world’s most exciting festival of ideas, New Scientist Live is rooted in the biggest, best and most provocative science. Last year’s event brought in over 22,000 people across four days.

The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums – the professional body representing top UK zoos – invited members to join forces to share the importance of zoo science with New Scientist Live visitors and to get across the idea of zoos as centres of scientific excellence.

Dr Amy Plowman, the Trust’s Director of Conservation and Education, said: “The virtual reality films are incredible - you’ll see a tiger jump for food, have penguins swim around your head and be surrounded by meerkats. Our message to visitors is simple. Zoo science is vital, exciting, amazing and inspirational!” BIAZA can be found in the Earth Zone at Stand 531.

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