A 30-stone gorilla in Chicago’s Lincoln Park zoo is so addicted to smartphones that he didn’t even notice another gorilla attacking him.
Zoo keepers have been forced to employ measures that stop people showing their iPhones to Amare the eastern lowland gorilla, as he is apparently fixated on taking selfies and watching YouTube videos.
Officials have built a ‘buffer zone’ with a rope to stop visitors showing Amare their screens through a glass partition, after Amare was charged by a rival gorilla while distracted by a zoogoer’s device.
They’re worried Amare could be bullied for his love of screens, which he uses to look at photos of people’s families, pets, or even pictures of himself.
Zoo director Stephen Ross told the Chicago-Sun Times: “We are growing increasingly concerned that too much of his time is taken looking through people’s photos, we really prefer that he spend much more time with his troop mates learning to be a gorilla.”
Ross added: “As parents, we think about we want to give our children choices, we want them to grow into adults, but every once in a while we have to sort of guide those choices for their good.
“And rather than maybe allowing them to sit inside and watch TV all day, maybe encourage them to go outside and interact with their friends.
“That’s something that I think all responsible parents think of and, in many ways, it’s similar to what we’re doing here.”
Amare is said to be particularly vulnerable because his favorite spot to sit is right next to the glass partition, which visitors to the zoo could easily approach before the ‘buffer zone’ was introduced.
Zoo keepers have warned that it is a vicious cycle, as the more interest that Amare shows in smartphones, the more likely it makes people to show him their screens.
Ross said: “We’re asking the public to partner with caretakers in future well-being and development of Amare into an adult gorilla.”