This Is What Serengeti Animals Do When Nobody’s Looking

Zebras, cheetahs, and giraffes, oh my!

There are surveillance cameras everywhere--on street corners, in airports, and even in the middle of the Serengeti.

Researchers set up 225 camera traps in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to get an idea of how animals behaved when people weren't looking. Between 2010 and 2013, the cameras captured 1.2 million sets of pictures, the largest camera trap survey ever conducted.

In results published today in Scientific Data, the researchers credit 28,000 citizen scientists who helped sort through the huge trove of pictures via the Snapshot Serengeti project. With their help, the scientists were able to create a huge, searchable database that they hope will be a model for other large datasets in the future. Take a look at a few of their amazing images in the gallery above.

Giraffe at Sunset
Giraffe at Sunset
Some of the pictures captured by the camera traps were so perfectly framed that they looked like a human photographer had captured them instead of a motion sensor.Snapshot Serengeti
"You lookin' at me?"
"You lookin' at me?"
A lion faces down a camera in the Serengeti.Snapshot Serengeti
"How's the weather up there?"
"How's the weather up there?"
Just in case you forgot how unbelievably tall giraffes are.Snapshot Serengeti
Zebra
Zebra
This zebra is enjoying a peaceful moment on the plains.Snapshot Serengeti
Hyena Snack
Hyena Snack
Not every encounter was so tranquil. The researchers also wanted to analyze how predator and prey interact in the wilderness.Snapshot Serengeti
Elephant Family
Elephant Family
The researchers captured more than 300,000 pictures of animals, including 40 different species of mammal.Snapshot Serengeti
Honey Badger
Honey Badger
Those 40 species included the ever elusive honey badger. The authors captioned this picture: "Honey badger isn't afraid of the dark."Snapshot Serengeti
Album Cover
Album Cover
Some of the animals were incredibly photogenic...Snapshot Serengeti
Snack
Snack
...while others were just going about their business.Snapshot Serengeti
Action Shot
Action Shot
Wildebeests running near one of the camera traps.Snapshot Serengeti
Cheetah Family
Cheetah Family
A cheetah family relaxing in the shade.Snapshot Serengeti