Not unlike how many of us play games on Facebook to kill time until it's five o'clock, orangutans at Smithsonian's National Zoo are utilizing iPads so they don't go nutso. Because being trapped in a small enclosure can be depressing, it's exciting when zoos strive to incorporate engaging enrichment. The iPads were a gift from Apps for Apes, an initiative from Orangutan Outreach, an organization devoted to helping save our hairy relatives.
"Primarily, we want the Apps for Apes program to help people understand why we need to protect wild orangutans from extinction," Richard Zimmerman, founding director of Orangutan Outreach, said in a statement. "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 for results in the field, it sounds like the orangs love iPads just as much as we do.
"It's about changing up the day-to-day lives of our animals," Becky Malinsky, a keeper at the zoo, said of the apps. "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 Washington Post, these great apes are already using 10 apps, including cognitive games, drawing programs, and musical instruments.
Like some other hominoids we know (er, humans), different orangs have different tastes. 36-year-old Bonnie hits the drums, 16-year-old Kyle enjoys piano, and 25-year-old Iris enjoys watching animated fish swim in a virtual koi pond on the screen. Fresh! Let's all be in a band with the orangutans — we'll be called The Orangutans and we'll leave The Monkees in the dust! (We didn't forget about you, Iris! You can be our number one fan.)
Image via Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.