Forget about Generation Y’s penchant for cool gadgets – love for apps is fascinatingly present in apes, as observed in 12 zoos across U.S. and Canada. And if you still hold that touchscreens and smartphones are too difficult for you and belong only to Generation Y, you may run the risk of becoming the laughing stock of some orangutans in American zoos: some apes who regularly use iPads to entertain themselves. Talk of the hi-tech age!
In a program called Apps for Apes, the New York city-based Orangutan Outreach is providing iPads to Orangutans for entertainment and learning during their enrichment time in 12 zoos. Richard Zimmerman, the founding director of the program said, “We’re finding that, similar to people, they like touching the tablet, watching short videos of David Attenborough for instance, and looking at other animals and orangutans.”
The orangutans are provided access to iPads twice every week, and it has been observed that apps for children such as painting, music, and memory games are popular with the orangutans. Zimmerman said, “It’s a lot like when we’re showing children pop-up books.” Matthey Berridge, the zookeeper at Toronto Zoo is using apps like Doodle Buddy, Montessori Counting Board and Activity Memo Pocket for learning activity and entertainment of the apes, including running youtube videos.
Orangutans are so attracted to iPads that one armless orangutan at the Center for Great Apes in Wauchula, Florida uses her feet to navigate through the touchscreens. Zimmerman says, “When you see the enjoyment and focus on their faces it’s special, especially for orangutans who are in an enclosure all day and you’re providing enrichment for them.”
Orangutans are considered to be the most intelligent apes on the planet and have intelligence similar to a young child. The Apps for Apes program runs on donated iPads and would soon be expanded to zoos across the world.
More information on the program can be found at http://redapes.org