Tech Orangutan iPad Users - Miami Zoo

Published on May 9th, 2012 | by James Johnson


Miami Zoo Orangutans Using iPad’s To Communicate

Orangutan iPad Users - Miami Zoo

We have seen senior citizens take to the iPad, 2-year-olds launch apps and play their favorite games before they can utter a full sentence and now orangutans at Miami Zoo are using the uber-popular iOS tablet to communicate with their handlers.

Six orangutans at the Miami Zoo use the tablets to identify items they are familiar with while expressing their wants and needs.

The app used by the orangutans was originally designed for autistic children and displayed various object images onscreen.

Linda Jacobs, who oversees the Jungle Island program, tells Wired:

“We’ll ask them to identify ‘Where’s the coconut?’, and they’ll point it out. We want to build from that and give them a choice in what they have for dinner — show them pictures of every vegetable we have available that day, and let them pick, giving them the opportunity to have choices.”

Sign language was the primary mode of communication up until this point, however handlers wanted to give the animals a secondary form of communication that adds more stimulation to their routine.

According to zoo workers the orangutans all picked up on the app quickly, although the two older orangutans much like many older adults simply were not interested in the new technology.

Because of their tough nails and ability to destroy the iPads they are housed inside an Otter Box case and the iPad devices never leave the hands of zoo workers who show the tablets to the orangutans.

In the future zoo workers would like to video conference the orangutans with other orangutans at other zoos.




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About the Author

James is a new media professional with more than half a decade worth of experience in the online writing space. He currently serves as the Associate Editor of and the Editor-in-Chief of He also serves as a resident writer for Splash Press Media. In his spare time James consults businesses regarding SEO and Content Development.

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