For nature documentarians trying to get shots of animals in inconvenient places, camera-carrying drones are basically the best thing since sliced bread. But chimps at the Royal Burgers' Zoo in the Netherlands aren't letting them off so easy.
The members of a Dutch television crew trying to film at the zoo must have thought they were pretty clever, using fancy drones to do their dirty work. The chimps were not so enthused about the invasion of their space, however, and promptly grabbed sticks with which to whack the drones out of the air. A chimp named Tushi proved that the film crew's sophisticated tool was no match for her more primitive one when she successfully sent the drone crashing down and destroyed it.
The drone was lost, but scientists were able to turn the incident into a scientific paper in the journal Primates.
"The use of the stick as a weapon in this context was a unique action," said study co-author Jan van Hooff of the Royal Burgers' Zoo, in a statement. "It seemed deliberate, given the decision to collect it and carry it to a place where the drone might be attacked."
Footage recovered from the drone suggests that Tushi was more annoyed than afraid when she attacked. She tensed up her face and bared her teeth, but her behavior wasn't typical for frightened chimp. This difference is key, as it suggests that Tushi thought out her attack and did not simply act reflexively out of fear. After knocking the drone out of the air, Tushi and her roommate Raimee even threw it around a bit before they lost interest and carried on with their normal chimp activities.
This is, of course, far from the first account of chimps using tools. What makes this incident particularly interesting is how the chimp deliberately chose a tool suited for a very "unnatural" task. It's one more piece of evidence that chimps have more human-like qualities than you can shake a stick at.