Apes Are Using iPads Now, Humanity Doomed

Zookeepers at 12 zoos across the country are experimenting with how orangutans use iPads and the results are really amazing. I guess you could say... "There's an ape for that!"

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According to Becky Malinsky, great ape keeper at the Smithsonian National Zoo, the iPads offer a new way to engage with apes:

"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."

As zookeepers learn which apps the apes prefer, the National Zoo's app collection has grown in the past few months. The apps the orangutans use run the gamut from music-makers to brain games.

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Zookeeper Matthew Berridge says apps that special-ed programs use to help autistic patients communicate might be able to bridge similar barriers with orangutans:

"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."

This Al Jazeera video looks at how iPads help orangutans better express themselves, solving the problem orangutans have with communicating their complex emotions and personalities to zookeepers.

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Interestingly enough, apes using apps isn't particularly new. The Smithsonian National Zoo’s orangutans have used some form of touch-screen monitor since 1994 to test their cognitive abilities.