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Watch: Gorilla at Toronto Zoo Addicted To Screens

Gorilla Addiction. Image: YouTube

A Gorilla at Toronto Zoo has become addicted to screens – proving just how similar our primate cousins really are to us.

In an era where technology permeates every facet of our lives, even the animal kingdom isn’t immune to its allure. The Toronto Zoo’s Nassir, a 13-year-old gorilla, stands as a testament to this phenomenon, showcasing an unexpected intersection of nature and the digital world.

Key Points

  • Nassir, a Toronto Zoo gorilla, has become addicted to screens.
  • His screen time affects interactions with his gorilla family.
  • The zoo aims for natural observation; and argues that screens disrupt this experience.
  • A study of orangutans shows that controlled screen use can benefit animals and visitors.

The Gorilla Who’s Addicted to Screens

Nassir, a 13-year-old gorilla at the Toronto Zoo, has developed an obsession typical for most teenagers (and adults for that matter) – screens.

This fascination began when visitors started showing him short video clips on their phones. The allure of these devices has become so strong that it’s affecting Nassir’s relationship with his gorilla family. Instead of engaging in typical gorilla behaviors and interactions, Nassir often appears more interested in the screens visitors hold up to the enclosure’s glass.

This behavior is not just a simple curiosity. It’s an obsession that mirrors the screen addiction seen in many teenagers today. Nassir’s fixation on screens has become so pronounced that the zoo staff describes him as the “epitome of a teenager.” If given a choice, he would let “screen time dominate his life.”

Why the Zoo Sees It As a Problem

gorilla addicted to screens
Gorilla. Image: Depositphotos.

The Toronto Zoo has always aimed to provide an authentic experience for its visitors. They aim to allow them to observe animals in a state as close to their natural habitat as possible. However, Nassir’s screen addiction is detracting from this experience.

Hollie Ross, a behavioral husbandry supervisor at the zoo, emphasized the importance of letting gorillas be gorillas. When visitors come to the zoo, the goal is for them to witness gorillas in their natural state. This includes seeing them engage in behaviors they would typically exhibit in the wild.

This connection between the animals and the visitors is vital for fostering understanding and appreciation. To address this issue, the zoo has put up signs urging visitors not to show any videos or photos to the gorillas, as some content can be distressing and negatively impact their behavior and relationships within their family group.

A Controversial Counterpoint

gorilla addicted to screens
Gorilla Head. Image: Depositphotos.

Although the Toronto Zoo expresses genuine concern over the gorillas’ screen addiction, arguing it detracts from observing the animals in their “natural state,” it’s quite ironic in a way.

The very act of confining gorillas within the boundaries of a zoo is inherently unnatural. These majestic creatures, that should roam vast landscapes, inhabit tiny enclosures that can never truly replicate the wild.

If the primary concern is to maintain the gorilla’s natural behavior, then the first step would be to ensure they live in their actual natural environment, not a constructed one. Emphasizing a “natural state” within an inherently unnatural setting undoubtedly seems contradictory.

The Gorilla That Was Gifted a Flat Screen

mountain gorilla in forest
Gorilla. Image: Depositphotos.

In a twist of irony, while the zoo discourages visitors from showing screens to the gorillas, one gorilla was gifted a flat screen TV.

This decision was made when the gorilla was recovering from an illness. The zoo installed a donated flatscreen TV for the ailing gorilla, allowing him to watch nature documentaries, which he did “with great interest.”

This move was a therapeutic measure to aid in the gorilla’s recovery. However, it’s essential to differentiate between this controlled environment, where the content is curated for the gorilla’s well-being, and the uncontrolled exposure from visitors’ devices.

A Study: Orangutans and Touchscreens

Orangutan. Image: Depositphotos.

According to studies, there is a way to incorporate screens in a positive and responsible manner, benefiting both the animals and the visitors.

A study at Zoo Atlanta introduced touchscreens in the orangutan exhibit, enhancing their cognitive stimulation without increasing negative behaviors. Visitors observing this interaction believed more in the advantages of digital enrichment for animals.

This suggests that when used judiciously, technology can elevate the well-being of zoo animals and enrich the visitor experience. It’s essential, however, to monitor content and animal interactions to ensure the well-being of the creatures.

Gorilla Addicted To Screens: Conclusion

YouTube video

The tale of Nassir, the screen-addicted gorilla, underscores the complex interplay between technology and animal welfare in modern zoos.

The Toronto Zoo’s concerns about Nassir’s screen obsession are valid. But, it also raises broader questions about the very nature of captivity. How “natural” can an experience within artificial confines really be?

The introduction of screens, as seen in the Zoo Atlanta study, can be a positive force when used responsibly, offering cognitive enrichment and enhancing visitor engagement. Either way, as zoos evolve in the digital age, they must navigate these challenges with sensitivity, always prioritizing the well-being of the animals.

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Donna Wyman

Sunday 20th of August 2023

Have you considered the use of the privacy film you could put on the glass instead of replacing it all. I don’t think ppl will stop using their phones inappropriately and I’m more concerned for the gorillas💜☯️☮️

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