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Orangutan Outreach wants Apple’s help popularizing apes using iPads

iPad ape

The next time you head to the zoo, you might see more than just a monkey and his uncle. One organization is giving iPads to primates and hopes Apple will lend its support.

Yep, that’s right. According to Extreme Tech, Orangutan Outreach, an organization focused on saving the world’s orangutan population, is setting up zoos with iPads especially for our monkey kin. The project is called Apps for Apes and the organization isn’t just monkeying around; it would like Apple to step in and help stir awareness.

“We believe that Apple will have much to gain by supporting our project and working with us to promote it,” the organization’s website says. “By helping to bring attention to the incredible intelligence and capability of orangutans, Apple will be helping protect a critically endangered species.”

The goal is not just to see orangutans interacting with the iPad. Instead, Orangutan Outreach would like the monkeys to video chat and communicate with other orangutans over Skype. Currently, the monkeys interact with the iPad through a wall, where they can put their hands through, but not actually hold the iPad itself. Apps that are most appealing have been ones similar to what a child would enjoy, including drawing and music apps.

“We would like to have a special section of the App Store called “Apps for Apes”, with proceeds going to Orangutan Outreach, a registered US non-profit charity,” the organization stated on its website.

Orangutan Outreach wants developers to create applications specifically targeting apes, as opposed to humans. These apps would have the same foundation, however, starting with identity games, music, memory and more.

One Milwaukee zoo that has already introduced the program says the orangutans enjoy looking at videos of themselves, and watching other apes in different areas of the exhibit. Given this interest in video, particularly video of themselves, an opportunity for long-distance communication arises. Orangutan Outreach calls this “Primate Playdate,” and believes it will be particularly attractive to young apes and mothers. Zoo trainers will set up specific times to execute the calls and then hand over the reins to the orangutans.

“Orangutans are highly intelligent creatures and they require mental stimulation to keep from growing bored and depressed,” the organization explained. “The Apple iPad is a perfect device for orangutans.”

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