Canadian Zoo Keepers use iPads, Apps For Apes

Canadian Zoo Keepers use iPads, Apps For Apes
Canadian Zoo Keepers use iPads, Apps For Apes

Zoo Keepers use Ipads and Apps for Apes

Twelve zoos across the United States and Canada have begun a program called “Apps for Apes” and the IPAD tablets are quite popular with the orangutans.

The apes are allowed 15-30 minutes of tablet time twice a week, according to a report from Reuters.

Orangutans are very smart mammals and have the same intelligent level of a small child. The apes enjoy the apps that are for children including painting, music and the matching games. It seems that the orangutans also enjoy watching youtube videos.

“We’re finding that, similar to people, they like touching the tablet, watching short videos of David Attenborough for instance, and looking at other animals and orangutans,” said Richard Zimmerman, founding director of Orangutan Outreach, the New York City-based non-profit that runs the program.

Here in Canada at the Toronto Zoo, zookeeper Matthew Berridge uses apps such as Doodle Buddy for drawing, Montessori Counting Board and Activity Memo Pocket, a memory game, in addition to playing YouTube videos for the apes.

“It’s a lot like when we’re showing children pop-up books,” said Zimmerman,  who says orangutans are among the most intelligent primates, with the intelligence level of a young child.

Zookeepers are also investigating how communication apps, such as those for the autistic, can help the animals to express themselves better, according to Zimmerman.

“Let’s say an orangutan has a toothache. He or she would be able to then tap on the iPad on a picture of a tooth and communicate it that way,” he explained.

This program is new and with its success comes the hopes to be incorporated with more zoos across the nation. The goal is to use Ipads to break the barriers of communications and to be able to better communicate with the apes.

“We’re hoping that in that moment we can make a breakthrough with (zoo visitors] and say, ‘Listen, these are beautiful animals that are obviously curious and intelligent and not too far from us and this is what they’re dealing with in the wild,'” said Zimmerman.

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Sean is a London (Ontario) based writer, and has been writing full-time for eCanadNow since May of 2005, covering Canadian topics and world issues. Since 2009, Sean has been the lead editor for eCanadaNow. Prior to his work writing and editing for the eCanadaNow, he worked as a freelancer for several Canadian newspapers.. You can contact Sean at {Sean at]
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