Miami Zoo monkeying around with the Apple iPad
The executive director of Orangutan Outreach, Richard Zimmerman, said he's building an "Apps For Apes" program with old, donated Apple iPads at facilities throughout North America, although Miami is not one of those in the program. And there are drawbacks in using a device like the iPad with orangutans. Even though the iPad screen is larger than some Android tablets, it is too small for these animals who are often pressing on the wrong icon or link. The touchscreen won't register when the orangutans use their fingernails, and the trainers have to hold the tablets when they are being used because otherwise they would be destroyed. Trainer Jacobs notes, "If I gave them the iPad, I could just basically hand them $600 and say, `Go have fun, so until we come up with a better screen or a better case, I'm going to hold onto the iPad."
The Apple iPads aren't being used just so that the orangutans become a more appealing attraction to humans. Jacobs says that the tablets are being used to stimulate the animals' minds and prevent them from getting bored or depressed. The use of the tablet has been praised by Mary Galdikas, founder of Orangutan Foundation International. Noting that orangutans share 97% of their genetic material with man, and that man likes the Apple iPad, it is no surprise that the orangutans like them too. Jacobs, the trainer behind the program in Miami, says her goal is for the use of the tablet to shrink the gap between humans and the endangered apes.