Apps for apes – can you think of a better name?
The program gives the animals access to music, musical instruments, cognitive games, paintings and drawings. And they can see photos and videos that let them interact at least on some level with other orangutans.
The zoo's orangutans — Amber, Bella, Segundo and Teak — have been working with apps that include drums and a xylophone. Others include a koi pond where they poke at fish, a rock blaster and a Simon Says app.
Apps that seem to be most popular are interactive ones with colors and sounds, zoo officials said.
The Louisville Zoo is one of only 13 worldwide participating in the Apps for Apes program.
Orangutans are considered highly intelligent and require mental stimulation to keep from growing bored and depressed. Freedom of choice is critical to their well-being, zoo officials said.
"They like to choose everything from their afternoon snack to their daytime companions and sleeping area. What they do each day depends on how they feel, and the more choices they have, the better. Just like humans, orangutans like options," the Orangutan Outreach website says.
The quality of life of orangutans living in zoos and sanctuaries depends in large part on the enrichment they receive, and the apps project is designed to provide that stimulation. Zoo officials say orangutans seems to have an innate ability to work with touchscreen technology.
Critical thinking challenge: Why are the apes well-suited to touch-screen technology, more so than cats or dogs?
- Posted on February 21, 2013