Smithsonian National Zoo orangutans score iPads in Apps to Apes program

Jan 24, 2013
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Life in a zoo has its perks, but a multitude of ways to keep entertained probably isn't one of them. To ensure that its apes have enough "variety and enrichment" in their lives as possible, the Smithsonian's National Zoo turned to Orangutan Outreach and Apps for Apes, bringing iPads to the primates. You can check out a video of the apes playing digital instruments and other tablet fun after the jump.

The National Zoo is one of a dozen other zoos that take part in the Apps for Apes program, all of which have reported good things. The Smithsonian's participation began in 2012 with a single donated iPad, which is used to run over ten apps known to be popular among orangutans. Applications include brain games, instruments, drawing apps, and more, with the goal being to eventually add in Facetime sessions between orangutans.

Those who want to help bring more digital enrichment to zoo-bound orangutans can donate iPads to Orangutan Outreach, and can donate iTunes gift cards for app purchases directly to the National Zoo via its website. The donated iPads would be sent to zoos that are interested in participating but don't have the funds to acquire the tablets.

Becky Malinksy, ape keeper at the National Zoo, had this to say. "Apps for Apes fits perfectly in this new era of zoo keeping. It's about changing up the day-to-day lives of our animals. We already vary their food, toys, and social interactions every day, but the iPad offers another way to engage their sight, touch, and hearing."

[via Smithsonian]


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