Orangutan iPad

Miami zoo is using iPads to communicate with its orangutans. In a rather innovative approach, the zoo lets the Orangutans draw, play games and increase their vocabulary. The iPad is hugely popular with the younger orangutan residents but the older generation do not show much interest.

"Our young ones pick up on it. They understand it. It's like, Oh I get this,'" Jacobs said. "Our two older ones, they just are not interested. I think they just figure, I've gotten along just fine in this world without this communication-skill here and the iPad, and I don't need a computer.” Jacobs said she began letting the orangutans use iPads last summer, based on the suggestion of someone who had used the devices with dolphins. The software was originally designed for humans with autism and the screen displays pictures of various objects. A trainer then names one of the objects, and the ape presses the corresponding button.

There are a couple of drawbacks to using the iPad with the orangutans, firstly the screen is a little small for their large hands, causing incorrect button presses. More importantly the iPads screen is very fragile (Gorilla glass must not strong enough for orangutans!) and that means that the trainers must hold onto the device. The future could see a larger screened device in the orangutans enclosure along with a screen outside for zoo guests to communicate with the orangutans. Training the orangutans is not done for any other reason than keeping their minds active and stopping them getting bored and depressed.

Source: Associated Press