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Tiger vs Hippo - Animal Matchup

The Beasts Are Coming: Video AI, and the Coming Deluge of Animal Fight Videos

by Arjun Dheer

Imagine scrolling through your Tiktok feed and stumbling upon video footage of gorillas wrestling grizzly bears, ostriches chasing kangaroos, and woolly mammoths—somehow resurrected—fighting tigers in a Vegas boxing ring.

While this might seem like scenes from a bizarre dream, it is fast becoming reality with recent advancements in generative AI. Whether you’re ready for it or not, animals will soon be hopping between different geological epochs and faraway places, just to duke it out for likes. And this aggro mashup of Noah’s Ark and Fight Club has its roots in a deep-seated human fascination that dates back to prehistoric times.

The Human Obsession with Animal Fights

Humans have been intrigued by animal fights since time immemorial. Cave paintings in Chauvet and Lascaux show Pleistocene heavyweights battling it out. The Roman Colosseum featured a variety of so-called “blood sports”, pitting lions against tigers, bears against bulls, and even man against beast. Several dog breeds such as the bulldog, akitas, and bully kuttas were developed specifically for such purposes, including intraspecific conflicts. And illegal bear-baiting continues to this day in some parts of the world, such as Pakistan. Historically, people could gamble on such fights and win acclaim for breeding the finest fighting animals. And the natural animal conflicts are often turned into a stage as well.

Tourists flock to the national parks of Africa with hopes of catching an epic showdown. Media companies like National Geographic and Discovery Channel have produced thousands of hours of fight footage for their documentaries and nature shows.

While doing fieldwork in the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, I watched 30 hyenas face off against three male lions over a Wildebeest carcass, and it was one of the most exhilarating moments of my life.

But, WHY the fascination with animal fighting? What’s the psychology behind it? Does it speak to some primal urge going back to our days as hunter-gatherers to watch two animals bludgeon, bite, scrape, and claw at each other? Does it parallel superhero crossover events, like Batman vs. Superman? Truly, why do we (men, mostly?) like to watch animals fight?

Whatever the reason may be, real-life staged fights have become less acceptable over time, and for good reason: the practice is undeniably mean, and it’s unnatural. Concerns over animal welfare have driven new laws and regulations that have outlawed real-life animal fighting all over the world. And, it has mostly worked (more on that in a future article).

AI Animal Fights

So, this is where AI—and Animal Matchup—comes in. Rather than the obvious ethical issues associated with pitting real-life animals against one another, AI-generated animal fights offer the same level of entertainment without any critters getting harmed. Naturally, we see this as a far more conscious, humane, and exciting alternative.

And sure, there are more peaceful forms of entertainment. We must acknowledge the potential for psychological effects. Though they weren’t specifically focused on animal violence, studies have shown that prolonged exposure to media violence can desensitize viewers and increase aggression.

But this is not passive observation; viewers actively seek out this content. As noted by Richard Pallardy in his research on animal fights and neurology:

“Even those who would never dream of betting on a pit bull fight may still enjoy nature programming that features predators in pursuit of prey — lions stalking buffalo on the African savannah or tigers picking their way through the Sundarbans swamps in pursuit of chital. That’s far more interesting to follow than a gorilla munching on bamboo shoots.”

And although true video incorporation is yet to be seen, we are already seeing burgeoning interest in AI animal fights on platforms such as Tiktok - just check out these search results for “AI Generated Animal Fights”.

The advent of AI video will only expand interest in this niche, and there are a number of different models in active development right now, with openAI’s Sora, Runway, Pika, and Vidu leading the pack.

Of course, as with any new technology, it comes with challenges.

For instance, morphing (also known as blending) can be an issue. This occurs when the characteristics of one animal are “blended” with those of another. This example demonstrates of both of these issues, showing a beaked rat facing off against a whiskered turtle:

Sometimes, the video looks good at first glance, but to a careful eye, there might be issues. Check out the odd coloration on the ostrich’s wing in this one, and the unusual appearance of the cheetah’s legs and tail:

And even when the animals look good, they are often moving in slow motion, which takes away some of the appeal of what we’d want to see in an action-packed animal fight:

Not to mention, none of these models are generating audio, so the videos are ironically reminiscent of the silent film that preceded modern movies over 100 years ago.

I digress.

Even with all of its faults, the technology is still very promising. Just check out Sora’s Octopus vs Crab video here - almost indistinguishable from reality:

And this has all happened quickly, which is why we’re excited about the progress. So excited in fact, that we’ve decided to start making fight videos ourselves, including our first ad, which features highlights from a fight between a gorilla and a grizzly:

We had a ton of fun making this ad, but trust us, it’s going to get a lot better than this. Sora will be launching in the near future, which we believe will be a watershed moment, as emerging LLM models compete with one another and improve over time.

And we’re here for it.

At Animal Matchup, we’re building an interactive experience around AI animal fights, and we’re ready to help usher in a whole new world of AI video content. You can check out our interactive, live matchups here, and see the latest animal battle videos by subscribing to our YouTube channel.

Everything considered, we see AI animal fights having a positive impact on the world. They will foster excitement for wildlife and the natural world while also potentially reducing incentives for real staged fighting between animals. In that way, they serve a double function that will benefit society and potentially-threatened wildlife alike. So, while each AI animal fight has a winner and a loser, the upcoming craze will be the ultimate win-win.

Stay Tuned.