Orangutans at Miami zoo use Apple iPads to communicate

“The 8-year-old twins love their iPad. They draw, play games and expand their vocabulary. Their family’s teenagers also like the hand-held computer tablets, too, but the clan’s elders show no interest,” David Fischer reports for The Associated Press.

“The orangutans at Miami’s Jungle Island apparently are just like people when it comes to technology. The park is one of several zoos experimenting with computers and apes, letting its six orangutans use an iPad to communicate and as part of a mental stimulus program,” Fischer reports. “Linda Jacobs, who oversees the program, hopes the devices will eventually help bridge the gap between humans and the endangered apes. ‘Our young ones pick up on it. They understand it. It’s like, ‘Oh I get this,” Jacobs said. ‘Our two older ones, they just are not interested. I think they just figure, ‘I’ve gotten along just fine in this world without this communication-skill here and the iPad, and I don’t need a computer.””

Fischer reports, “Orangutans are extremely intelligent but limited by their physical inability to talk, she said. ‘They are sort of trapped in those bodies,” Jacobs said. “They have the intelligence that they need to communicate, but they don’t have the right equipment, because they don’t have voice boxes or vocal cords. So this gives them a way to let us know what they know, what they are capable of, what they would like to have.’ Other zoos and nature parks are doing similar work.”

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: And an ape up in the Redmond zoo is still trying to figure out how to turn on his HP Slate.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Poof! HP’s vaporous slate PC evaporates – April 28, 2010
Leaked HP Slate fails to impress; gadget blog tries it, says ‘meh’ – April 21, 2010
HP’s slate PC may cost $45 more than Apple’s iPad when it finally ships – March 19, 2010
Microsoft and HP to attempt to upstage Apple with CES slate PC unveiling – January 05, 2010


  1. That is to bad. I believe that they are saying that the Dancing Monkey at Microsoft is to old to learn this new technology and feels that he has “gotten along just fine in this world without this”.

    Didn’t Steve Ballmer already tell us that? I think he likes buttons and keys. Ok, science is just trying to keep up I guess.

  2. I’m sure those older primates are just itching for Windows 8 tablets like everyone else on the planet. Those older primates want to actually get some productivity from their devices by being able to multitask a dozen things at once. Those older ‘tangs don’t like Apple “toys” that the children are using. They know Windows is where it’s at for the highly intelligent corporate primate.


  3. All kidding aside, IMO the people (not the orangs), and I’m hesitant to call them scientists, represented in the article are ageists. They could use a little objectivity.

    Since the iPad debuted, there has been story after story about how senior citizens (as well as every other age group) have taken to the iPad. A lot of comparison between humans and apes aren’t all that valid. It isn’t just a lack of vocal capability that hinder their development. Besides, all animals, regardless of intelligence, have developed non-verbal and verbal methods (within their limitations) of communications.

  4. “Linda Jacobs, who oversees the program, hopes the devices will eventually help bridge the gap between humans and the endangered apes. ”

    This woman is probably using a lot of ‘stimulus’ tax money to con people. Get a real job and produce something.

    1. ‘When will monkeys start using iPhones and calling and texting each other?’

      They already do – I see them all the time – some of them still have those dorky bluetooth thingies in their ears.

  5. Wow. If you want to give communication abilities to those who cannot. Just go to any children’s hospital. Besides, have you missed every planet of the apes movies? These kinds of test never end well for the humans.

    1. Orangutans and other related primates are good models for understanding both human behavior and human physiology. Thus, understanding these primates helps us understand ourselves, and potentially overcome modern social and medical problems. To better understand these primates, it is useful to be able to communicate with them on some level.

      There, now this research is useful.

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