Chimps that took down the camera drones with sticks in Netherlands’ Royal Burger Zoo have displayed a shrewd implementation of counter measures, akin to what humans would do in the same situation, according to a study conducted by researchers.
On April 10, a Dutch TV crew placed camera drones in the chimp compound of the Royal Zoo in an attempt to catch the animals in their intimate moments for a documentary film. However, their plans backfired when a group of chimpanzees, led by female chimp Tushi, took down the camera drones using long sticks. While the crew who deployed the camera drones were not thrilled by the actions undertaken by the group of chimpanzees, scientists who have examined the chimps’ behavior appear to be delighted.
According to The Guardian, researchers Jan van Hooff and Bas Lukkenaar published their re-examination of the events in the journal Primates, concluding that Tushi’s actions demonstrated an impressive level of ingenuity and forward planning by the angry ape.
Several chimps reacted to the flying camera drone by using willow twigs and climbing on the scaffold where it was hovering, but when they were finally unable to take it down, Tushi used a six-foot stick to swat down the film crew’s drone. It took her two attempts to bring down the camera.
Professor Jan van Hooff, one of the researchers conducting the study, claimed that the use of a stick by the female primate was “unique” and “deliberate.”
“The use of the stick as a weapon in this context was a unique action. It seemed deliberate, given the decision to collect it and carry it to a place where the drone might be attacked.”
Even when it was struck down, the camera continued to capture the inquisitive faces of the chimps as they toyed with what was a baffling instrument for them, according to NBC. However, the fact that Tushi grimaced just before striking the camera is evidence of an assertive force displayed by the chimpanzees, and it is very similar to what most humans would do in a potentially threatening situation.
“The precise coincidence of the facial grimace with the strike suggests that it is a concomitant of an assertive and determined exertion of force, homologous to what humans do in comparable situations.”
Not only that, fellow researcher Lukkenaar also confirmed that the chimps’ actions attest to a broader significance of the filmed incident.
“This episode adds to the indications that chimpanzees engage in forward planning of tool-use acts.”
Chimpanzees are known for making use of different tools in everyday activities. According to the researchers, Tushi and her fellow chimps have never explicitly been taught how to use tools, but have had several chances to watch humans handle all kinds of implements. Chimps at the Royal Burger Zoo have spontaneously used more than 13 different types of tools for a variety of purposes, which by all accounts, is a testament to the ways these intelligent animals can think progressively and adapt to different habitats.
[Photo by Burgers Zoo / Youtube]