Sunday, May 13, 2012

Apes and iPads

Do you own an iPad? Have you played around with one lately? Pretty amazing and entertaining, right? And, perhaps a bit addicting. Well, one animal welfare group, Orangutan Outreach, has begun to introduce orangutans to iPads. 
 This group believes, and some pretty undeniable research has shown, that interactive technology can be stimulating for apes and a beneficial source of enrichment. We imagine these orangutans aren't on Facebook, Instagram, or Angry Birds, but rather playing with drawing and painting applications to experience the sensation of creating and directing colors and designs. 
Some sessions allow apes the ability to interact with one another remotely, using the video chat connectivity. Richard Zimmerman, the founder of Apps for Apes, claims that "this is not a gimmick." And he's right, based on body of research, the long memory of these animals, and their overall cognitive abilities. iPad and other human technology experiences can be enriching for primates and should be explored further. Obviously, this type of investment is a flashy, trendy thing. We must also consider that most zoo budgets have trouble supporting low-tech, comprehensive enrichment programs. But, perhaps this is where the future is heading as technology becomes more central to all of our lives.

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