iPads Reach Hands Of Orangutans As National Zoo Joins 'App For Apes' Project

By Binu Paul email: b.paul@mobilenapps.com | Jan 24, 2013 04:07 AM EST

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Orangutans in 13 zoos around the world are playing online games on iPads as part of the 'Apps for Apes' program aimed at enriching the lives of those apes in captivity.

The Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C. has introduced Apple iPads to Orangutans with an aim to use the devices as a new interactive enrichment tool to augment the cognitive development for the zoo's simians.

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"With the Apps for Apes project, we propose to introduce Apple iPad technology to orangutans in order to provide them with unlimited enrichment opportunities. The iPad is a perfect device for orangutans, as they have an innate ability to work with touchscreen technology," explained the Orangutan Outreach Web site that offers the Apps for Apes program. The group said orangutans are highly intelligent creatures that they require adequate mental stimulation to keep them from growing bored and depressed.

The D.C.-based zoo joined the program last year when a zookeeper's family member donated an iPad to the Great Ape House. Since then, the people behind the initiative have developed more than 10 apps involving musical instruments, cognitive games, and drawing programs.

The group says the program has three major goals such as:

  - To provide stimulating enrichment and immediate gratification for the orangutans using iPads.

 - To raise awareness among zoo visitors of the critical need to protect orangutans in the wild

 - To promote the conservation efforts of Orangutan Outreach.

"With proper guidance, orangutans will be able to use their devices just like humans do- to spend their time doing things that they enjoy. They will have access to music, musical instruments, cognitive games, art, painting, drawing, photos and videos. Among other things, they will be able to see photos and videos of other orangutans," the group explained.

According to an article published by the Smithsonian's National Zoo, orangutans are apparently happy to play with the device that the 36-year-old Bonnie likes to bang on the drums, 16-year-old Kyle prefers the piano and 25-year-old Iris is content to listen to the soothing sounds of the koi pond while watching animated fish splash.

Watch the 'Apps for Apes' program in action below.

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