Czech chimps learn the art of zoom

In the past year of ‘strange and unprecedented times’, it’s hard to believe there is anything surprising left that could be newsworthy. Never fear though, because Czech chimps are here to save the day with their noteworthy introduction – and mastery – of the now commonplace zoom call. 

Zoo keepers in the Czech zoo Safari Park Dvur Kralove, which is 135km east of Prague, joined forces with a fellow zoo in Brno, 150km to connect their two troops of chimpanzees by using digital conference software. Whilst even the least tech savvy amongst us has had to get to grips with video call technology, so have the chimps been introduced to what is being called the ‘zoom lifestyle’. 

The zookeeper’s came up with the idea after coronavirus global pandemic lockdown restrictions saw them needing to close their zoos to the public. As highly sociable and intelligent creatures, the zookeepers worried that the chimps were becoming bored with the lack of visitors to watch and keep them entertained. 

While we all may be experiencing the much dreaded zoom fatigue, the chimps on the other hand seem to be loving every minute of their new found online connection. In an uncannily human behaviour, the chimps have even been seen to enact similar behaviours to ourselves such as grabbing a snack to watch the TVs with. 

This fevor of interest surrounding the TV was initially one of caution, with the chimps showing fear of the large lit up and moving image boxes. After a period of time however, the chimps became more familiar with the screens and have started to interact with the other chimps on the call. 

Gabriela Linhartova, ape keeper at Dvur Kralove, said of the chimps: “At the beginning they approached the screen with defensive or threatening gestures,” before they eventually warmed up to the screens.