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  • iPads are being introduced to Orangutans in Smithsonian Zoo's "App for Apes" Project


    The Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C., has started utilizing Apple’s iPad as a new interactive enrichment tool aimed at cognitive development for the zoo’s simians. According to DCist, the zoo, in conjunction with 12 other zoos from around the world, is participating in what has been dubbed “Apps for Apes,” a program that leverages the touchscreen interactivity of Apple’s iPad to enrich the lives of those apes in captivity.

    The National Zoo first joined the initiative when a zookeeper’s family member donated an iPad to the Great Ape House. After talking with fellow program participants, the zoo was able to pick and choose ten apps that seemed to be most conducive to interaction; including a number of music, drawing and game apps. According to the keeper in the video below, one of the orangutans named Iris is particularly fond of the popular app, Koi Pond.



    According to animal keeper Erin Stromberg:

    Apps for Apes is all about giving orangutans in human care choice over their environment. With the iPad, we're hoping to tap less into the critical-thinking outlet and more into a creative outlet. If they're engaged in an app, we'll keep going. If not, they have the choice to walk away.
    Although it seems like a new high-tech implementation, the zoo is no stranger to using technology to help study animal behavior. For example, the park has been using stationary touchscreen monitors to test orangutan memory since 1994. The iPads are being used differently however and represent a more cognitive approach to interactive with the simians. Although the work to meld consumer electronics technology with primate research is still in its infancy, zookeepers hope to utilize the iPad’s potential and connect orangutans across continents using videoconferencing apps like FaceTime. According to Richard Zimmerman, the founding director of Orangutan Outreach:

    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.
    As of right now, the zoo is accepting donations of iTunes gift cards to broaden its app base and iPad hardware donations which will end up going to zoos across the U.S. Those who are interested in donating iTunes gift cards can do so through the site’s Giving Tree, while the Orangutan Outreach program handles all iPad hardware gifts.

    Seeing the apes in the zoo using the iPad is no different than seeing certain people use the iPad in terms of entertainment. In all seriousness though, the initiative is really interesting and it’s nice to see the zoo trying to enrich the lives of the animals they hold captive.

    Source: DCist
    This article was originally published in forum thread: iPads are being introduced to Orangutans in Smithsonian Zoo's "App for Apes" Project started by Akshay Masand View original post
    Comments 6 Comments
    1. swifty7's Avatar
      swifty7 -
      I almost chocked from laughing reading this part..

      'Seeing the apes in the zoo using the iPad is no different than seeing certain people use the iPad in terms of entertainment. In all seriousness though, the initiative is really interesting and it’s nice to see the zoo trying to enrich the lives of the animals they hold captive.'

      what do they mean with 'certain people'...why use the word 'certain' but not people in general..LOL!!!!!!
    1. bmwraw8482's Avatar
      bmwraw8482 -
      Ummm... Planet of the apes? Is this how it starts?
    1. thazsar's Avatar
      thazsar -
      Quote Originally Posted by bmwraw8482 View Post
      Ummm... Planet of the apes? Is this how it starts?
      +1
    1. Gaijinboy's Avatar
      Gaijinboy -
      I wonder if the apes gained weight and started sitting on their arses all day?
    1. Mrteacup's Avatar
      Mrteacup -
      Sad that intelligent animals like orangutans are caged up like so, look how they force it to use the iPad through the cage..
    1. Tperry's Avatar
      Tperry -
      Right turn Clyde.