Zookeepers at two zoos in the Czech Republic set up large screens in chimpanzee parks to allow their bored chimps to interact with each other via video calls.
The FaceTime test was set up to help stimulate the chimps, who have been interacting with visitors during locking.
The screens were installed March 11 in the empty viewing areas of Dvůr Králové Safari Park and Brno Zoo. A two-way video call between the screens is allowed apes from each zoo to see each other for up to 8 hours per day, even though they were kept away.
So far, the chimps seem to be heading to the new technology.
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“The campaign has been a great success, and we could not be happier and more proud,” Michal Šťastný, spokesman for Dvůr Králové Safari Park, told Live Science. “Even other zoos have decided embrace the concept and work with it. “
Zoos play a challenging role in maintaining and achieving the most relaxed and intelligent animals.
“Chimpanzees are very intelligent so they need a lot of motivation to keep them active, energetic and happy,” Šťastný said. “The key is to keep up with new ways and types of enrichment every day to keep them busy. “
Eyewitnesses are always on the lookout for new ways to entertain the chimps and use a variety of toys, food and equipment to challenge and entertain them. However, at the time of locking, it is difficult for the snipers to realize the benefits that chimps derive from interacting with human (and non-human) visitors.
“Chimps like to watch people and also their dogs, which are allowed in the zoo,” Šťastný said. “Sometimes visitors enjoy small games, such as running them, shouting at them and other regular games.
Unfortunately, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the safari park has been closed for months. “The zoo has been closed for nearly 200 days,” Šťastný said. “This project shows people that the zoo doesn’t sleep and the animals need our daily care.”
Successful screen time
FaceTiming with other chimpanzees seems to have replaced some of the excitement the apes received from interacting with visitors.
“Anything new is very interesting for them,” Šťastný said. “Especially in the early days, the group would carefully scrutinize what was going on.”
The chimps knew clearly that they were using video, because they were always looking out for what was behind the screen, Šťastný said. But the chimps seemed to understand that chimps and guards on screen would see them too.
“Some of them would bring their own food to show other chimps as they would with regular newbies,” Šťastný said. “The chimps also seem to enjoy watching the gannets in Brno do their job.”
Dvůr Králové’s six chimps were involved in the video call at some point, but one young woman, known simply as M, looked more into screen time than some of the most resident residents. that’s all.
“At times the on-screen chimps seem so interested in refusing to move from one fort to another when the guards have to clean up,” Šťastný said.
While FaceTiming has been very popular at the zoos, the project is likely to be completed within the next two weeks, Šťastný said, as they expect to eventually become the chimps over there.
“The streaming of the video has been very successful, but over time, the chimp’s attention is likely to disappear,” Šťastný said. “That’s why the keepers. coming [up] with new ways of enrichment every day. “
First published on Living Science.