Gorilla-viewing glasses prevent eye-contact


68 Responses to “Gorilla-viewing glasses prevent eye-contact”

  1. Anonymous says:



  2. Anonymous says:

    The Bokitokijker are available for download here. Print them out and have your own pair!


  3. Anonymous says:

    I’m confused as to how exactly the gorillas were attacking people for looking at them. Surely they’re separated by a moat or fence? The crowd’s not walking among the gorillas, are they? What kind of “attacks” are we talking about here? Flinging poo?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Chuck Norris once looked at a troup of 20 gorillas right in the eye SIMULTANOUSLY

  5. Fred H says:

    This reminds me of (if I remember correctly) man-eating tiger hunters from a country I can’t recollect. Anyway, they wore masks, with a human face, on the back of their heads, to discourage a tiger attack from behind.

  6. Dr. Dave says:

    They should make a version that looks downward and sell them to tourists in New York City.

  7. Matt Deckard says:

    Wouldn’t any pair of sunglasses dark enough to hide your eyes have the same effect?

  8. CoyoteOsborne says:

    According to the tour guide at the LA Zoo, Gorillas sometimes “attack” people who stare at them by pelting them with organic matter they make themselves.

    Sometimes they’ll charge at people – even if they can’t get to the people, it’s scary and there’s a possibility that the gorilla could injure itself.

    Also, it’s bad enough that the animals get stared at by a zillion people every day, without them being under constant irritation caused by their natural reaction to direct eye contact.

  9. Anonymous says:

    #13 You rule.

  10. dewexdewex says:

    If the picture used on the specs is that of the lady who was attacked, I think she should pluck more often.

  11. YoshiDan says:

    Reminds me of an episode of the simpsons. Homer is in court and has glasses like these on and he is sleeping behind them. I can’t remember what episode it was

  12. Rob Cruickshank says:

    I once took pictures of those famous Japanese hot spring snow monkeys with a stereoscopic camera.
    The lenses of the camera look like eyes, and boy, did they hate that. Almost as much as they hated each other.

  13. Bugs says:

    dewexdewex @13 wins the thread!

  14. Brainspore says:

    @ Rob Cruickshank #43:

    Since you’ve seen them in person maybe you can answer a question that has been bugging me for years: how the hell does a wet snow monkey leave the hot springs without freezing to death?

    I’ve enjoyed outdoor hot tubs in cold weather, but I needs me a towel and a heated room as soon as I get out.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Sorry, Gruppler, but he was correct with his grammar.
    “The glasses’ introduction follows an attack”
    He’s not saying “the glasses’ follow”, he’s saying “the introduction follows”. The introduction simply belongs to the glasses.

  16. Takuan says:

    Nature of fur

    Fur usually consists of two main layers:

    * Ground hair or underfur or down hair — the bottom layer consisting of wool hairs which tend to be shorter, flattened, curly, and denser than the top layer. Its principal function is thermal insulation and thus thermoregulation.
    * Guard hair — the top layer consisting of longer, often coarser, straight shafts of hair that stick out through the underfur. This is usually the visible layer for most mammals and contains most of the pigmentation. It protects the underfur from outside factors, such as rain, and is thus often water-repellent.

    A third layer, the awn hair, may also exist. It is intermediate between the two others.

  17. eustace says:

    There’s a therapeutic angle to this. Isn’t there a mental disorder that makes some people especially sensitive to eye contact? With a pair of augmented reality glasses (and a lot of computational horsepower) the gaze of others can be “averted” for the sufferer.
    (meanwhile, my own pair of augmented reality glasses will be turning everyone’s eyes into big anime eyes)

    Tekna2007 at #19 wins this thread, IMHO.

  18. Anonymous says:

    #2 the glasses’ introduction follows… is correct FYI.

  19. Anonymous says:

    “if he sees me im going to fucking punch him”

    You, sir, are utterly hilarious.

  20. Rob Cruickshank says:

    @45: As takuan points out, the monkeys do have (kinda greasy) fur- which no doubt helps, but yeah, it was reasonably cold out, about 0 C, and we couldn’t figure out how they managed to stay warm. They did fight over a big concrete slab that was heated by the water, but it would only hold one monkey.

    @44 i would link to them, but they exist only as tranparencies, I haven’t scanned them. I do remember another stero photographer who had some very nice images of them on the web, I’ll see if I can find them.

  21. UstinJay says:

    @ #12- I’m offended that you assume all gorillas speak broken english. pft.

  22. Anonymous says:

    these could be used by british subjects in their camera state to avoid eye motion tracking.

  23. gruppler says:

    These are incredible. I hope they introduce these to every zoo because I really want some.

    By the way, Corey Doctorow, I’m shocked to find an error in your grammar (unless it’s a typo).

    “The glasses’ introduction follow an attack…”

  24. youdiejoe says:

    I’m not looking at you, is this bothering you? I’m not looking at you, is this bothering you? I’m not looking at you, is this bothering you? I’m not looking at you, is this bothering you? I’m not looking at you, is this bothering you? I’m not looking at you, is this bothering you?

  25. axl456 says:

    if i have an encounter with a escaped gorila on a zoo i dont think that a “viewing away glasses” could help me that much :S

    is not that like the gorila is thinking “if he sees me im going to fucking punch him”

  26. Chickie Pants says:

    Those are kinda creepy. Do they have different colors for different skin tones?

  27. Anonymous says:

    There’s a *The googles! They do nothing!* joke waiting to be made here.

  28. technogeek says:

    #21: Interesting question, worth trying. Depends on whether the gorilla’s objection is to being stared at (which bothers most animals, including humans) or to the other not looking away… and whether they think of the glasses as eyes (like the old taunt of “four-eyes”). (How much is thought vs instinctive reaction isn’t a sharp line. And again, that’s true for humans too.)

    I suspect it was simply easier to talk zoo-goers into wearing silly glasses than sunglasses.

    I do like the idea, though. Zoos have started putting up warning signs asking folks to not stare at the apes, for the animals’ comfort as much as anything else; the glasses/mask approach is probably more effective than trying to train homo saps to avoid maintaining eye contact.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Thanks everyone for the laughs. I couldn’t stop. Rated in order of hilarity.


  30. zapan says:

    I think they work on the basis that gorillas won’t hurt you if you look retarded.

  31. W. James Au says:

    No one’s explained the evolutionary origin of gorillas considering eye contact a predatory threat. Can someone tell me how the fuck these primates evolved into Frank Booth from *Blue Velvet*?

  32. Brainspore says:

    That’s the same reason I always wear my “giant broccoli man” disguise when I visit the carnivore exhibits.

  33. deddycool says:

    I want one of these, so I can look at women without any shame ;). Now I only need an Nokia N97 mini

  34. Marcel says:

    The woman who was attacked in Rotterdam Zoo was somewhat of a nutcase who felt attracted by a mature male silverback, and went to the zoo almost every day to stare in his eyes. Then one day he snapped.

  35. tuckels says:

    So you have to watch the gorillas through a pin-hole?

  36. soupisgoodfood says:

    “What the hell is it that’s so interesting to the right of my cage?”

  37. Anonymous says:

    Chuck Norris doesn’t use “Gorilla-viewing” glasses.

  38. javaxman says:

    I want some of these so badly! Gimme gimme gimme… where do I order them? No, I won’t be visiting Rotterdam any time soon…

  39. Mattz says:

    @7 If I’m remembering right, it’s not so much that eye-contact is a predatory thing, but a challenge for dominance, particularly if you bare your teeth while you do it. Say perhaps you look at a gorilla and smile. Here’s his thought process.
    “Murr, skinny white ape. He looking at me. I big boss here. I twist him into ball of jungle vines and pain and give him to Lola as toy”.

  40. Brainspore says:

    Come to think of it, you could also use these to ogle at naked chimpanzees without looking like some kind of pervert.

  41. dewexdewex says:

    Marty Feldman was once attacked by two gorillas simultaneously.

  42. dewexdewex says:

    And besides, what if there are two gorillas? One standing next to the other… tricky.

  43. Anonymous says:

    Somebody fire up Photoshop and put the glasses on a gorilla! Yeah you know it’s gotta be done XD

  44. Daemon says:

    You lookin’ at me?

  45. Onigorom says:

    Imagine, all glasses who look to the left are out and one guy gets the eyes-wide-open-straight-looking-at-you-version.

  46. Anonymous says:

    Do want, and want badly! Like Javaxman @ 11, does anyone know where to get these in the States?

  47. Anonymous says:

    poor gorillas are going to keep looking over their shoulders to see what all those people are staring at all the time.

  48. Anonymous says:

    I would love a pair of these!! They would really play havoc with facial recognition software.

  49. Anonymous says:

    The real problem is keeping primates imprisoned in zoos.

  50. Anonymous says:

    #23, see #8: the gorilla jumped the moat, which wasn’t wide enough in retrospect… http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6670723.stm

  51. Anonymous says:

    “if i have an encounter with a escaped gorila on a zoo i dont think that a “viewing away glasses” could help me that much :S

    is not that like the gorila is thinking “if he sees me im going to fucking punch him”

    This is exactly what happened actually! The gorilla escaped and looked for the woman who stared at him through the glass every day, when he found her he dragged her all over the zoo. Just look up Blijdorp zoo and Bokito.

  52. Gilbert Wham says:

    Which when taken home after your visit become handy ‘staring at boobs’ glasses…

  53. Narmitaj says:

    Of course, if you have your head tilted down and angled just right while rummaging in your backpack, you might find the specs are inadvertently staring at the angry gorilla by themselves – with the extra hassle that you won’t be able to see him coming.

  54. TEKNA2007 says:

    I wonder if these would work for G-20 protesters.

  55. Banana Toaster says:


    Now you too can make delicious food that will remind the whole family of the trip to the Rotterdam Zoo!

  56. Anonymous says:

    A direct stare is considered hostile and threatening to most animals.

    These glasses are a great idea and should be required for viewing other animals at zoos as well, such as tigers and other big cats.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if zoos with this policy didn’t see an increase in successful breeding rates (less stress on the animals), but in any case, surely the animals would be happier and that’s reason enough.

  57. Kyle Armbruster says:

    Stupid monkeys.

  58. Takuan says:

    primates use many subtle signals to make dominance challenges, territorial warnings, food demands and sexual interest evident. For example, note the eyelid colour of this specimen. The paler shading contrasts with the background fur so blinking can be used to finesse the message with direct eye contact. Can you guess what message this creature is sending?

  59. Anonymous says:

    DO WANT!

  60. Anonymous says:

    I need these for my poker table.

  61. Latente says:

    :awesome: glasses are awesome

  62. Anonymous says:

    Every guy who has been caught looking at a womans cleavage needs these… and yet I can’t find them buy anywhere!

  63. ia_ says:

    What if there’s a gorilla towards your upper left? Then you’re in trouble!

  64. infikitsune says:

    These would be great for public transport. No more staring at the wall to avoid awkward eye contact with the person sitting opposite.

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