Steven Leshem, DVM, a veterinarian from Connecticut, supports the work of the Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, Iowa. Supporters like Steve Leshem, DVM, might be surprised that the Great Ape Trust has joined forces with a program that offers iPads to Orangutans. The group, Orangutan Outreach, has developed the Apps 4 Apes program in order to provide cognitive and sensory stimulation to Orangutans in zoo environments. The great apes are endangered in the wild, and zoos, which breed them in captivity, are an essential tool for promoting the survival of the species.
While zoos strive to provide orangutans living in captivity with interesting, enriching environments, many experts realize the apes need more stimulation. Researchers at the Great Ape Trust have demonstrated that orangutans have an innate ability to understand iPad technology. The group offers the animals access to iPads and to an array of apps, including music making programs, games, drawing tools, and even virtual koi ponds. As the program expands, keepers hope to use video conferencing technology so that apes in different facilities can communicate with each other.