Going Ape for Apps, Zoo Keepers Use iPads To Entertain Orangutans

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News Posted: Mon, Sep 3 2012 9:27 AM
Want to teach an orangutan how to play a memory game? There's an app for that. As part of a program called Apps for Apes, a dozen zoos in the U.S. and Canada have turned to Apple's popular iPad tablet to teach apes about music, painting, and other activities using mobile apps intended for children.

Not just for fun and games, the iPad program is proving useful for apes to better communicate when something is wrong.

"Let's say an orangutan has a toothache. He or see would be able to then tap on the iPad on a picture of a tooth and communicate it that way," explains Richard Zimmerman, founding director of Orangutan Outreach.


Zimmerman says orangutans, like people, enjoy tapping on the tablet, watching videos, and looking at other animals on the iPad. It's an activity they get to participate in twice a week, spending anywhere from 15 minutes to half an hour, depending on how their attention span holds up.

"We're hoping that in that moment we can make a breakthrough with [zoo visitors] and say, 'Listen, these are beautiful animals that are obviously curious and intelligent and not too far from us and this is what they're dealing with in the wild,'" said Zimmerman.
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KAdair replied on Mon, Sep 3 2012 10:40 AM

LOL, that's really cool! Until angry Orangutans decide they wants to smash an iPad :P

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realneil replied on Mon, Sep 3 2012 10:47 AM

It will be interesting to see how much, and how fast they learn.

They should use a web cam to show people what they're doing in real time.

I would watch that in a heartbeat.

Dogs are great judges of character, and if your dog doesn't like somebody being around, you shouldn't trust them.

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JOMA replied on Mon, Sep 3 2012 6:47 PM
Pretty cool use of technology. If it helps them to communicate better that would be a big deal.
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Yah apple only pleases monkeys like most of its users anyways. Hahah jk

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CReed1 replied on Tue, Sep 4 2012 8:07 AM

Until a truly solid case is made available, which will probably take a bit of time, the keepers will be holding the iPad for the orangutans. If their fingers can't reach it's possible for them to use a carrot or stick of celery, just like a stylus! {:(|}

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