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Why the Toronto Zoo wants you to stop showing its gorillas videos from your phones

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The Toronto Zoo is advising its visitors to avoid showing videos and photos on their cellphones to its gorillas as they distract the apes.

"We just want the gorillas to be able to be gorillas," Hollie Ross, behavioural husbandry supervisor at the zoo, said in an interview with CP24 on Thursday.

"And when our guests come to the zoo, we want them to be able to see gorillas in a very natural state, and what they would be doing naturally – to sort of connect with them on that level."

The zoo has posted signs at its gorilla enclosure to remind guests not to show videos or photos to its primates "as some content can be upsetting and affect their relationships and behaviour within their family."

Sign posted at the Toronto Zoo's gorilla enclosure. (Abby O'Brien/CTV News)

Ross said one of the gorillas, Nassir, has become enthralled with videos visitors are showing him.

The Toronto Zoo's website says Nassir was born in September 2009 and describes him as "the epitome of a teenager" who is "fascinated by videos and screen time would dominate his life if he had his way."

While the gorilla's fascination with videos is primarily out of curiosity, the zoo wants to ensure that it does not become an issue, Ross said, adding that they have not observed any significant behavioural changes so far.

"We don't really want our guests coming and showing them videos. We would rather have them see them do gorilla things," she said.

"Nassir, in particular, was really interested in seeing different videos. I think, mostly, he was seeing videos of other animals. But, I think what is really important is that he's able to just hang out with his brother and be a gorilla."

Nassir, a gorilla at the Toronto Zoo, is seen in this undated photo. (Toronto Zoo website)

A zoo in Chicago had to put up a rope line a few feet away from the glass partition of its gorilla enclosure to keep visitors from showing their phones to one of the apes who had becomeso distracted by the gadgets that officials started seeing behavioural changes, according to the Chicago Sun Times.

Ross noted the Toronto Zoo is already letting its gorillas watch videos, including those of other animals and nature documentaries, which she said they really like.

"We just want to make sure that we know the content. Very much like managing an account for a child or something, you want to make sure that your parental controls are on, and that you're in control of what the content is that they're seeing," she said.

"We just want to make sure that we know what they're watching."

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