Primates are some seriously smart creatures. Gorillas, the biggest of the gerat apes, are know for their brawn and their agressive tendencies, but in this video one gorilly demonstrates his more sensitive side. Jelani, a gorilla who resides at the Louisville Zoo in Kentucky, seems to have an affinity for smart phone technology, but not just for apps and text messages. The silverback, was captured on film interacting with a zoo goer who pulled up images of other gorillas on his phone.
In the video, we witness Jelani pressed close against the glass of his enclosure gazing at pictures on the patron’s smartphone. The two sit shoulder to shoulder, just like two friends on a park bench, looking at the pictures. Jelani’s new friend places his phone against the glass and the big ape looks at each photograph in turn. He nods, seeming to say, “Okay, next picture.” And the man will change the picture.
The whole scene is, on one hand, amazing to see an animal interacting with people and technology through the glass at a zoo. It makes us feel good to be able to touch their world, to feel like we understand them and can share experiences with them. At the same time, it’s somewhat disturbing to think that Jelani is intelligent enough to understand that he’s looking at pictures of other gorillas and can identify himself as one of them. Maybe he’s wondering why he isn’t in a jungle or gathering food out on his own…
Fortunately for us, the big silverback seems content to share his time with zoo patrons, his interactions are positive and his demeanor, gentle. Zookeepers find him a joy to work with and we hope that continues. Perhaps one day Jelani might get a camera phone of his own and share the pictures he takes with us.