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Zoo’s gorilla screen time plea

UPI – The Toronto Zoo is asking visitors to help minimise screen time for specific primates by refraining from showing mobile phone videos to the facility’s gorillas.

Signs have been placed outside the gorilla enclosure, requesting visitors to avoid using their phones to show photos or videos to the gorillas. The zoo emphasised that certain content can be distressing and impact the gorillas’ relationships and behaviour within their family unit.

Behavioural husbandry supervisor at the zoo Hollie Ross said keepers have not yet noticed any significant behavioural changes in the primates, but officials want to ensure the animals’ lives remain as natural as possible.

“We just want the gorillas to be able to be gorillas,” Ross told CP24. “And when our guests come to the zoo, we want them to be able to see gorillas in a very natural state, and what they would be doing naturally – to sort of connect with them on that level.”

Officials said gorilla named Nassir has been seen showing a particular interest in the videos on visitors’ phones. Nassir, born in 2009, is “fascinated by videos and screen time would dominate his life if he had his way”, the zoo’s website stated.

“We’ve had a lot of members and guests that actually will put their phones up to the glass and show him videos,” zoo’s director of wildlife conservation and welfare Maria Franke told The Toronto Star. “And 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.”

Ross said Nassir and his fellow gorillas are already allowed to watch videos including nature documentaries under controlled circumstances.

“We just want to make sure that we know the content. Very much like managing an account for a child or something, you want to make sure that your parental controls are on, and that you’re in control of what the content is that they’re seeing,” she said.