Curious Chimp Swats Down Drone

Read about a chimpanzee that took action when a flying drone got a little too close to her zoo enclosure.

When a flying device got a little too close to a zoo enclosure, this ape took action.

Published April 16, 2015

Most folks wouldn't be thrilled to have a noisy object fly over their home. It seems one chimpanzee might have felt the same way.

Just ask Tushi, a clever captive chimpanzee that was caught on video using a branch to take out a drone—or an unmanned aircraft—that flew too close to her enclosure.

The drone, which was filming video for a TV series over the Netherlands' Royal Burgers' Zoo, captures Tushi lying in wait on a platform with a long branch hidden behind her back. As the drone flies by, she lunges, trying to knock down the noisy invader.

Finally the chimp succeeds and swats the device to the ground. Then she jumps on it and pulls off some propellers before losing interest and wandering off. "We were flabbergasted," zoo spokesman Bas Lukkenaar says. "It shows, once again, just what intelligent animals they are."

The drone caused some chimp chaos when it flew over the chimpanzee habitat, Lukkenaar says. Most of the apes calmed down after a few minutes, but Tushi continued lurking in a tree, waiting for an opportunity.

Tushi's behavior might look like an act of aggression, but primatologist Susana Carvalho says the chimp was probably just curious about the object. "She didn’t know what the drone was," Carvalho says. "It was flying low and she could reach it—so she did."

At the zoo, Tushi is famous for her playful curiosity—and her great aim. "We weren't surprised that she was the one to hit down the drone," Lukkenaar says.

Text from "Watch Curious Chimp Knock a Drone Out of the Sky" by Ralph Martins for National Geographic News

Adapted by Rose Davidson, NGS Staff