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US, Canadian zoos use apps to teach apes

Published on Sep 3, 2012 5:18 PM
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TORONTO (REUTERS) - Humans aren't the only species on the planet with a penchant for electronic gadgets. Zookeepers across the United States and Canada are discovering that apes also get excited about apps.

As part of a programme called Apps for Apes, 12 zoos across the two countries have been incorporating iPads into the enrichment time allotted for orang utans, the giant furry red primates native to Indonesia and Malaysia.

"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 Mr Richard Zimmerman, founding director of Orangutan Outreach, the New York City-based non-profit that runs the programme.

Twice weekly, orang utans are provided with access to the tablets. The animals spend from 15 minutes to a half hour using different apps depending on their attention span. Apps geared towards children that stimulate activities such as painting, music and memory games are among the most popular apps with the apes.

 
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