Video calls have been a social lifeline during the pandemic. Virtual birthday parties, holidays, and happy hours have been a way to remain connected while physically apart, and it turns out humans aren’t the only species enjoying this technology. Chimpanzees at two Czech zoos are using video calls to boost social interaction while zoos are closed to visitors.
Safari Park Dvur Kralove and its sister zoo in Brno are 150 kilometers apart, but chimps at each facility can keep track of activity at the other with giant live video screens.
Chimpanzees crave social interaction just like humans, and with no visitors at the park, zoo staff worried they were getting bored and lonely with just the company of their fellow enclosure mates. This sparked the idea to set up the live screens and so far, it seems like the chimps are loving it.
The screens project a feed from the chimp enclosure at the other zoo. There’s no sound, but chimps at both facilities have started collecting around the screen throughout the day to get a glimpse of the action. Some have even started collecting snacks and bringing them over to the screen to eat, like popcorn at a movie theater.
If you want to check it out, the zoo offers a live stream for human viewers on their website from 8 am until 4 pm daily. The zoos plan to continue the program until the end of March and potentially longer depending on how the chimps respond to it over time.