It may look like gorilla warfare, but officials say the knife-wielding primate photographed by visitors to the Calgary Zoo had no violent intent.
The photos show a gorilla, named Barika, clutching the blade and pointing it at another gorilla in her cage.
The knife was accidently left behind by a keeper who entered the enclosure to prepare food, Cathy Gaviller, the zoo's director of conservation, education and research said Wednesday.
Primates will often pick up new items in their enclosure out of curiosity, but they quickly get bored if they can't eat the objects or figure out a use for them, she said. Within minutes of picking up the blade, Barika placed it on a chair and all of the gorillas were called out of the enclosure, Gaviller said.
"The public members quite often drop cameras or sunglasses or hats or water bottles, by accident, into the exhibit,'" Gaviller said. "So this ... is actually a fairly common procedure.''
While gorillas will use crude tools in captivity, they have no concept of using weapons and would never have thought to be violent with the knife, Gaviller said. Any aggression seen in the photographs is in the eye of the beholder, she said.