On the Lighter Side

Picture of James Angelos

Curated by James Angelos

A Gorilla at a Chicago zoo became transfixed by visitors' phones. What does the primate’s enchantment with screens tell us about ourselves?

  • Amare, a 415-pound gorilla at a Chicago zoo, got so into the habit of staring at visitors' smartphones, that he once failed to notice when another gorilla lunged at him in a show of aggression.
  • That level of distraction got zookeepers concerned about how Amare’s phone preoccupation was affecting the primate’s well-being. So they recently moved to cut down on Amare’s screen time.
  • First, zookeepers installed a rope line to keep humans at a distance. They also asked visitors to be mindful that too much exposure to screens was potentially harming the gorillas socially.
  • But what about the effect on the gorillas’ evolutionary cousins—human beings? There’s growing awareness of the harmful effects of too much screen time and overuse of social media.
  • Apps like WhatsApp, Facebook and TikTok are designed to be addictive—to keep eyes on the screen. The cost of semi-permanent distraction of humans is incalculable.
  • Today, we present a few articles about Amare, and what we could learn from the gorilla's story. By the way, zookeepers already report positive changes to Amare’s behavior with reduced screen time.
The Guardian
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3 articles on this topic


Turning off my phone improved my science

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4 min read

Not smart but clever? The return of 'dumbphones'

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5 min read