Orangutans With iPads

First Posted: Jan 23, 2013 06:21 AM EST

The world is getting even more tech savvy. Ever imagined an orangutan using an iPad? Nearly six orangutans at the Smithsonian's National Zoo are being introduced to iPad apps that will offer them a different form of stimuli.

Zookeepers at the Smithsonian's National Zoo decided to follow Orangutan Outreach and a program that celebrated success in 12 zoos globally: Apps for Apes. Last year, the zoo began participating in this program.

"Apps for Apes fits perfectly in this new era of zoo keeping," Becky Malinsky, great ape keeper at the National Zoo, said in the news statement. "It's about changing up the day-to-day lives of our animals. We already vary their food, toys and social interactions every day, but the iPad offers another way to engage their sight, touch and hearing."

According to the authorities, the apes have tried 10 different apps that include musical instruments, cognitive games and many more. By adopting this program, the zoo hopes to introduce its orangutans to those protected in other zoos with the help of video conferencing platforms.

They learnt about the interest of the orangutans, as some enjoyed playing the drums and some preferred the piano.

This app helps to stimulate the orangutans and improve their communication with humans. At the same time, it helps to raise awareness about the kind of challenges they encounter.

Prior to this, as part of a cognitive study to test their memory, skills in using tools and how good they were in social learning, the zoo introduced touch-screen monitors in 1994.

"Primarily, we want the Apps for Apes program to help people understand why we need to protect wild orangutans from extinction. We do that when we show zoo visitors how similar humans and apes are, be it through observation, talking with wildlife experts or seeing the apes use the same technology we use every day," Richard Zimmerman, founding director of Orangutan Outreach, said in a news statement.

Orangutans are famous for their high levels of intelligence.

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