Lucky Orangutans Might Soon Get Their Own iPads

Rope swings and trees are so passé. Primates these days want iPads, and a trio of sweet orangutans from the Toronto Zoo might just be getting their very own tablet to play with.

As it turns out, the Toronto Zoo is at the head of the list to get a donated iPad from Orangutan Outreach, which is a conservation group spearheading an Apps for Apes program.

The program started last year in the Milwaukee Zoo, when the Outreach supplied the zoo’s resident orangutans with an iPad. The primates use the iPad through a mesh screen, while their keeper holds it. They enjoy using a painting app with their fingers.

Founder and Director of the Orangutan Outreach program, Richard Zimmerman, says that the painting program stimulates the orangutans, who can get bored in captivity. “Orangutans like to paint and they’re capable of using this digital device,” he said, adding “there’s no paint to eat.”

The Toronto Zoo is preparing for the incoming iPads by working with York University animal behavior specialist Suzanne MacDonald, who is helping the zoo line up primate-friendly apps. A few trial runs have been performed with iPhones, which resulted in a positive response from the orangutans.

Once several zoos have been equipped with iPads, Zimmerman is hoping that the orangutans will be able to contact one another with video chat. He believes orangutans are able to recognize pictures of other orangutans. Pretty neat, right?

There’s no word on when, exactly, the Toronto Zoo will be receiving the iPads, but it should be soon. Want to get involved with the Orangutan Outreach program? Just visit the website to find out ways you can help.

[via The Star]

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