Tablet popularity is skyrocketing, and many users are, well, captivated. They’re finding their tablet’s apps wildly entertaining!
For example, thirty-six-old Bonnie likes to bang on the drums. Clearly having a classical musical bent, sixteen-year-old Kyle prefers the piano. And a twenty-five-year-old named Iris likes to listen to the soothing sounds of the koi pond while watching animated fish splash about.
Unusual? Maybe before the proliferation of tablets, but now tablets are everywhere. Bonnie, Kyle, and Iris are among the orangutans at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo who are now going high tech, courtesy of Apps for Apes and Orangutan Outreach, a non-profit organization with a mission to save endangered orangutans and protect their rainforest home.
Notes Orangutan Outreach, "Orangutans are highly intelligent creatures that require mental stimulation to keep from growing bored and depressed. The quality of life of orangutans living in zoos and sanctuaries is dependent on the amount and type of enrichment they receive on a daily basis."
According to Becky Malinsky, great ape keeper at the National Zoo, "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."
Which apps are most popular? According to the Smithsonian's National Zoo, the apes use about ten apps, including musical instruments, cognitive games, drawing programs, and others.
Do they video chat and Skype with other great apes at the more than a dozen zoos around the world participating in Apps for Apes? Not yet, but according to the press release, “Eventually, the Zoo hopes to connect its orangutans with those at other zoos using video conferencing platforms.”
Orangutans share approximately 97 percent of their DNA with humans, according to the Orangutan Foundation International. Now, a fascination with tablets is added to the list of similarities.
Developers take note. The zookeepers feel that it’s important to continue adding new apps to keep Bonnie and friends interested and engaged. After all, just playing the same piano app every day would be boring for anyone.
Pamela Rentz is a freelance writer and editor who has been working in marketing communications and PR for technology—from startups to Fortune 100 outfits—for more than eighteen years. She’s a regular contributor to TechWell.com and GardenTraveler.com. She’s also a Georgia Master Gardener and, when not writing, can usually be found in a garden somewhere.