Gorilla Flicks Through Zoo Visitor's Camera Roll in Amazing Viral Video

About 98% percent of our DNA is shared with gorillas, and one great ape has proven that they really aren't too different from the average phone-swiping Joe.

Jelani the gorilla was shown in a video taken at Louisville Zoo prompting a visitor to swipe through her camera roll for his viewing. TikTok user @gertiemusic posted the video on June 20 and has gained over 1.7 million likes, with 16 million views on the post.

The clip captured the visitor sitting on the other side of the glass from the gorilla, showing her phone to Jelani. He took the initiative to prompt her to slide to the next photo on the camera roll, using a hand movement toward the phone to let her know when he's ready to move onto the next one.

The video can be seen in full here.

Jelani's fascination with phones should come as no surprise—he's technically a Gen Z. The gorilla was born in 1997 at Lincoln Park Zoo, but arrived at Louisville Zoo in 2002, where he's resided since.


Wow!!!!! Jelani the Gorilla Tells You to Swipe through pictures on your phone!!!!! #jelanithegorilla #louisvillezoo #gorilla #foryoupage

♬ original sound - Gertie Music

According to ABC News, Jelani enjoys looking at images of other gorillas, "but he'll look at anything," said the zoo's media relations manager, Kyle Shepherd.

"He'll either do his hand in that motion or he'll tap the glass when he's ready for you to move on," she added.

The zoo believes his penchant for looking at photos and videos stems from a time when he was injured at a previous zoo. "They'd watch videos with him while they were caring for him around the clock," said Shepherd. "We believe that's when it began."

In 2015, Jelani first went viral after videographer Paul Ross shared a video on YouTube of him motioning a young man to swipe on his phone. The man had been showing images of gorillas on his phone, to the entertainment of Jelani. At one point, the gorilla even slumped himself against the grass while gazing at the images.

The original video has gained over 25 million views in the almost six years since it was shared, but Jelani also went viral again two years later for the very same thing. That time however, Twitter users were left amazed by how similar his reaction was to that of using Tinder, swiping on each gorilla and pausing on the ones he liked.

Now a TikTok Star

Now, in 2021, Jelani has found viral fame again, keeping up with the times on TikTok, which overtook Twitter and YouTube in app store downloads in 2019.

@gertiemusic's TikTok account includes various videos of Jelani motioning for visitors to show more pictures, along with clips of his fellow gorillas at the zoo. Jelani lives with Bengati, Cecil and Kicho.

Cecil is the youngest of the silverbacks and has the same father as Kicho. Bengati's great-grandmother Helen also lives at Louisville Zoo, and reportedly shares some physical traits with him.

Fans of Jelani have been split, appreciating his intelligence and entertainment value online, but also expressing pity because he lives in a zoo.

"I think this is amazing! But I do wish he was free in his natural habitat," wrote one TikTok user.

"The most amazing animals on earth," added another.

"He needs his own phone," commented one TikTok user.

Gorilla looking at phone
A file photo of a gorilla looking at a phone. A Louisville Zoo gorilla has gone viral for prompting visitors to swipe through their camera roll. Getty Images