The Milwaukee County Zoo has been letting their orangutans play with iPads, and they are enjoying it just like the rest of us. What’s next for the tech savvy apes? Wireless Internet access, so they can waste their lives watching YouTube videos just like the rest of us?
Conservationist Richard Zimmerman told the BBC that he hopes the experiment will raise awareness and funds to support wild animals that are facing extinction.
Zimmerman, from the charity organization Orangutan Outreach, said he wanted to give iPads to the animals the first moment he saw one when former CEO Steve Jobs announced its release to the world.
Zimmerman and the orangutans got their wish granted this past May after one of the organization’s supporters showed his own iPad to the animals at the Milwaukee County Zoo. Now, the apes get to play with a few devices for two short periods of time every week.
Orangutan Outreach hopes to allow the animals to get more involved with the iPads, using them for things like drawing, watching videos and other playtime things, “almost as a human child would do with basic curiosity.”
The Orangutans can only play with the iPads through the bars of their enclosure while a zoo keeper holds onto it. The fear being that the animals will destroy the tablet as soon as it gets alone with it. “As soon as we hand them over to the orangutans, we figure the lifespan could be as little as 15 seconds – whether they meticulously take them apart or just snap them in half,” said Zimmerman.
The zoo is looking into building a reinforced iPad, capable of withstanding the orangutan’s blows, or even fixing the device to a wall and have the images projected onto a larger screen that visitors can see.
While there doesn’t seem to be any planned experimentation happening thus far, Zimmerman is confident that this type of technology interaction will push the at-risk species into the forefront of conservation awareness. “Research is going to come out of it, we know that, but as a charity geared towards conservation we’re focusing on enrichment and making sure there’s a conservation message attached,” Zimmerman said.
[via BBC Online]