Orangutans Use iPads to Communicate

Orangutan using iPad

An orangutan uses an iPad at Miami's Jungle Island. Photo by Associated Press.

At Miami’s Jungle Island, the iPad is a huge hit with young orangutans.  They use the handheld computer tablets to draw, play games, and learn new words.

This exposure to technology is part of the zoo’s mental stimulus program. The hope is to increase communication between humans and apes.  Keepers have long used sign language to communicate with orangutans, but the iPad allows people who don’t know sign language to communicate as well.

Orangutans are highly intelligent creatures, but they lack the ability to talk.  According to Linda Jacobs, who oversees the program at Jungle Island, “They are sort of trapped in those bodies. 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.”

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To learn more about orangutans, see Animal Fact Guide’s article: Bornean Orangutan.