By Lawrence Karol for TakePart.com
If you’re having trouble adapting to your new iPad, you might want to make a trip to your local zoo and see if any of the orangutans can provide you with a tutorial. Thanks to the Apps for Apes project organized by Orangutan Outreach, a nonprofit whose primary mission is to protect orangutans in their native habitat, these animals are becoming iPad aficionados.
“I got the idea for Apps for Apes when Steve Jobs first gave his presentation on the iPad,” Richard Zimmerman, Executive Director of Orangutan Outreach, tells TakePart. “It literally was an epiphany when I saw the closeup of his fingers moving the images. I thought, ‘Wow, this is perfect for orangutans.’”
Apps for Apes initially started at the Milwaukee County Zoo where one of Orangutan Outreach’s supporters brought his own iPad to work and showed some stories and videos on it to the orangutans. From there, Apps for Apes spread to other facilities and Orangutan Outreach eventually brought them all together and organized a collective.
Today, less than 60,000 orangutans exist in the wild and scientists and biologists conclude that the species’ numbers have disappeared by more than 70 percent over the last 60 years as a combined result of trapping, hunting, and deforestation.
“Everyone working together and sharing information is really the key to Apps for Apes as a program,” says Zimmerman. “We’re in about a dozen facilities right now and scaling up. National Geographic has started supplying us with used iPads so we’re able to bring in a lot more facilities and we have a pretty big list of zoos that want to join.”
As far as the apes’ seemingly natural dexterity with the iPad, Zimmerman points out that orangutans are physically built similar to humans. “We share about 97 percent of the same DNA,” he says, “and their fingers are like our fingers, albeit longer. So the actual physicality of it is natural and they’re already very tactile creatures and are very sensitive. In the wild they live in the trees so everything is based around their grasp and the use of their hands.”
Read the rest of this article at http://www.takepart.com/article/2013/02/22/orangutans-love-be-engaged-and-explore-new-challenges-luckily-theres-app