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ChimpanZoom? Primates at Czech zoo go wild for video calls | Zoom

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Humans might be tiring of video calls, Zoom birthdays and streamed performances, but the chimps at two Czech zoos are just starting to enjoy their new live online link-up.

To make up for the lack of interaction with visitors since the attractions closed in December under Covid-19 restrictions, the chimpanzees at Safari Park Dvur Kralove and the troop at a zoo 150km away in in Brno, can now watch one another’s daily lives on giant screens.

There are no mute-button disasters because the sound is off, but there has already been plenty of interest in what the distant cousins are up to since the project got under way last week.

“At the beginning they approached the screen with defensive or threatening gestures, there was interaction,” said Gabriela Linhartova, ape keeper at Dvur Kralove, 135km east of Prague.

“It has since moved into the mode of ‘I am in the movies’ or ‘I am watching TV’. When they see some tense situations, it gets them up off the couch, like us when we watch a live sport event.”

A chimpanzee watches a giant screen inside its enclosure at Dvur Kralove Zoo
A chimpanzee watches a giant screen inside its enclosure at Dvur Kralove Zoo Photograph: David W Černý/Reuters

The chimpanzees have also adopted other human behaviours such as grabbing snacks like nuts to chew on while watching the action.

The video conferences, also aired on the safari park’s website, will run daily from 8am until 4pm until the end of March when keepers will evaluate whether they should continue.

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