If there was anyone in our society who didn’t know how to use Zoom, they do now. The demand for the superior video call platform has obliterated all others over the course of the pandemic, and its popularity is even crossing the species boundary.
Chimpanzees at two Czech zoos are, like the rest of us, staying in contact via Zoom, as the zoo staff seek to give them some company and stimulation during the long hours of isolation.
Chimp gang Dingo, Babeta, Bonnie, Suzi, Chispi and Mat at Safari Park Dvur Kralove have had their lives Zoom-displayed on giant screens in front of the simians at a Brno Zoo enclosure 90 miles away, and vice versa.
There are no confusions over whether the default speaker is selected, or if the mute button is on, as the sound off entirely, but that hasn’t stopped the two groups from enjoying the company of their cousins.
Reuters reports that it didn’t always seem like a family reunion. “At the beginning they approached the screen with defensive or threatening gestures,” said Gabriela Linhartova, one of the ape keepers at Dvur Kralove Zoo 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,” she said.
While observing the others’ day-to-day lives, the chimps have taken to other human behaviors, such as shoveling things like peanuts into their mouths while they watch— reminding this author of the “junk food movie nights” of his childhood.