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Gorilla Photographed With Knife At Zoo

June 19, 2009

An Official at the Calgary Zoo in Canada say the gorilla that visitors had photographed holding a knife had no intent for violence.

The photos showed Barika, the gorilla, holding the blade and pointing it at another gorilla in her cage.

The knife was left behind by a zookeeper who had entered the cage to prepare food, Cathy Gaviller, the zoo’s director of conservation, education and research, said.

Occasionally, primates will pick up new items in their cages because they are curious, but they quickly get bored if they cannot eat the object or figure out a use for it, she said.  Gaviller said that Barika placed the blade on a chair within minutes of picking it up, and all of the gorillas were called out of the cage.

“The public members quite often drop cameras or sunglasses or hats or water bottles, by accident, into the exhibit,’” Gaviller said. “So this … is actually a fairly common procedure.”

Gorillas do use tools in captivity, but they have no concept of using weapons and would have never thought to be violent with a knife, Gaviller said.  She added that any aggression seen in the photographs is in the eye of the beholder.

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