Zoo Cracks Down on Gorilla's Screen Time

It seems they really like visitors' cellphones
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 12, 2023 11:20 AM CDT
Zoo Cracks Down on Gorilla's Screen Time
Ngozi holds her baby gorilla, Nassir, after his father, Charles, picked his name on Nov. 18, 2009, at the Toronto Zoo. The zoo set up piles of fruit at stations with five different name choices. The baby's name was determined by the fruit pile the dad ate from first.   (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)

If you've ever had a kid, spouse, or decidedly boring date you couldn't drag away from their phone, the Toronto Zoo can commiserate. The Toronto Star reports that visitors have for some reason felt the urge to show Nassir the gorilla videos on their cellphones. "Nassir is so into those videos," says Maria Franke, the zoo's director of wildlife conservation. And like any human who's ever developed that glazed look while staring into a screen, "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." End result being that the zoo has had to post a notice asking patrons to keep their gadgets to themselves.

It's not the first such occurrence, notes CTV News: Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo put up rope around its gorilla enclosure after a teenage gorilla named Amare started ignoring his pals in favor of visitors' cellphones. The Star reports that a gorilla at the Louisville Zoo in Kentucky, Jelani, got to the point where he would make swiping motions when he wanted visitors to move on to the next photo or video. Meanwhile, back in Toronto, the zoo isn't banning all screen time, says behavioral husbandry supervisor Hollie Ross. While "we just want the gorillas to be able to be gorillas," per CTV, the zoo does show some nature documentaries and videos of other animals. But like any guardian, "we just want to make sure that we know what they're watching." (More gorilla stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.