LOUISVILLE, Kentucky — It was an average day at the Louisville Zoo for YouTube video editor Paul Ross. He was visiting the zoo’s gorilla sanctuary for the first time with his daughter when he noticed another visitor showing his iPhone to a gorilla named Jelani.
Jelani looked very intrigued, so Ross asked the man what he was showing the gorilla. He said he was showing him pictures of other gorillas.
Ross told WXIN that the interaction between the man and the gorilla lasted for a very long time, and he only captured a snippet of it.
“In the moment you could tell everyone’s excitement,” said Ross.
Jelani is a Western Lowland Gorilla – a species classified as “critically endangered.” Jelani has lived in Louisville’s gorilla sanctuary since 2002.
The video only shows a very small part of the sanctuary, but the gorillas are actually housed in a four-acre habitat with access to indoor day rooms and outdoor open-air fields.
Gorillas are very social animals, and the whole idea behind the construction of the sanctuary is for the gorillas to be able to socialize – not only with each other, but also with people.
In this particular video, Jelani is hanging out in the observation room with the purpose of interacting with zoo visitors. Interspecies interaction between gorillas and humans helps fulfill the gorillas’ emotional needs.
In fact, Jelani’s bio on the zoo’s website says, “He is a laid-back individual and likes to look at cellphone photos and videos.”
Ross says he is in not affiliated with the zoo or any wildlife cause, but given the popularity of the video, he wants people to direct their emotions to researching the cause here.