More And More Gorillas In Captivity Are Getting Addicted to Smartphones, Including Teenagers

A snapshot of a young woman and a gorilla viewing movies of newborn gorillas at the Louisville Zoo in the United States state of Kentucky recently went viral, getting a large number of comments. What you see in the photo is happening in zoos all across the world, prompting the question: may this be har.mful to the animals? Not only do adult gorillas display extreme interest in cellphones, as do people, but teens are as, if not more interested, or even more so.
Amare, a 16-year-old 188-kilogram (415-pound) gorilla, was claimed to have developed an addiction, which was probably created by crowds of tourists approaching the gorillas’ glass cage at his home in Chicago’s Lincoln Park zoo, Illinois, to show him images and movies on their iPhones. This seemingly innocent action might have a negative impact on the unwary ape. Amare, on the other hand, was once so engrossed in a zoo-cellphone goer’s screen that he was taken aback when one of the three other “bachelor” young gorillas residing in his cage rushed him.
Here’s Amare, completely absorbed: Although this type of vi.ol.ent engagement is usual with gorillas and no ha.rm was done this time, zookeepers believe Amare’s inattentive behavior might cause his social status to decline within the group, eventually leading to “serious developmental effects.” “We are becoming increasingly concerned that too much of his time is spent looking through people’s photos; we would much rather that he spend much more time with his troop mates learning to be a gorilla,” Stephen Ross, director of the zoo’s Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes, told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Jelani, the other gorilla seen at the beginning of this piece, reacts similarly to photographs of other gorillas. But let’s get back to Amari, the adolescent gorilla. In his instance, zoo employees ultimately installed a rope line to keep people and their phones away from him. The zoo believes that this physical barrier will reduce Amari’s time in front of the television. So, evidently, contemporary technology has a negative impact on gorillas’ ‘natural’ inclinations (though this is presumably true of us humans as well). After all, does it?
According to IFLScience, several zoos have exploited current Internet technology and screen time for a wide range of enrichment programs, providing animals with interesting and engaging activities. These activities appear to keep them happy and healthy, especially during periods of isolation, such as lockdowns due to a pandemic, when zoos and parks are closed. During the peak of the C.O.V.ID-19 epi.dem.ic in 2021, a Czech zoo (Safari Park Dvr Králové), which was closed to the public at the time, opted to use a Zoom call to link its chimps with other confined persons.
While some of the chimps were unwilling to participate, others responded favorably. Two large screens were erected in the chimp enclosure to create a shared living area for the animals in a similar concept involving both Dvr Králové and Brno Zoo. It appears to have been a big success with the animals. Korkeasaari Zoo in Helsinki went a step further by providing the white-faced saki monkeys with their own on-demand film player. It gave them the ability to pick what they wanted to see and when they wanted to view it, which appeared to lessen stress-related behaviors such as excessive scratching. Finally, we cannot assume that all technology is harmful to animals. Especially those who have been deprived of their native habitats.

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