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Please don't show your smartphone to the gorilla

by on12 July 2023

He is just too gadget mad and is not talking to the other gorillas

Toronto Zoo has had to install a sign asking punters not to show their smartphones to Nassir the gorilla.

The zoo's director of wildlife conservation and welfare Maria Franke said that a lot of members of the public and guests that actually will put their phones up to the glass and show Nassir videos,

"Nassir is so into those videos. It was causing him to be distracted and not interacting with the other gorillas, and you know, being a gorilla. He was just so enthralled with gadgets and phones and the videos."

 Biologist Rob Laidlaw sees animal interest in technology as a manifestation of their need for stimulation -- a result of the boredom they experience in captivity. He says keeping such animals stimulated is a huge challenge, even for sanctuary organisations that provide sprawling enclosures.

Laidlaw says technology has its uses in zoos, but the emphasis needs to remain on providing as many animals as possible with environments that are as close to their native habitats as possible.

"My fear is always that people see these things and think they're a panacea when in fact they're not. They're just one little tiny facet of relieving the boredom of animals."

On the plus side Nassir seems to have grown out of his preoccupation with mobiles and become more interested in girl apes.

"It's like Nassir was a little boy, all he wanted to to do was sit in the basement and play games on the computer. I'm not really sure what the content of the videos was. Was it gorillas in the wild? I have no idea. Was it a cartoon? I have no idea. But obviously, there was something that was attracting him to it." 

Last modified on 12 July 2023
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