Apes like to spin in circles to get high, report scientists

In the video above, a gorilla named Zola has a blast spinning in circles. It's not uncommon for apes to enjoy whirling around but why do they enjoy it? Turns out, it's the same reason that kids get kick out of playground carousels and ye olde Sit 'n Spin toy. Dizziness is like a psychoactive drug, according to researchers at the University of Warwick and University of Birmingham. From the New York Times:

According to findings published last month in the journal Primates, other great ape species also seem to regularly enjoy stimulating their senses through spinning, possibly even in pursuit of altered mental states.

The animals also often made "play faces" while spinning, [University of Birmingham cognitive psychologist Marcus] Perlman said, implying that they were most likely having fun rather than only seeking a way to relieve themselves of boredom in captivity[…]

Marc Bekoff, an emeritus behavioral ecologist and cognitive ethologist at the University of Colorado, Boulder, who was not involved in the study, said researching such behavior was valuable "because there's no a priori reason to think we're the only animals who engage in behaviors that intentionally produce altered states of consciousness." He added, "Systematic research will help us learn more about the taxonomy of getting high and not run around thinking we're all that unique."

image: Michaela Pilch/Shutterstock