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Primate playdates: Orangutans get to play via video calling

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Milwaukee County Zoo's Orangutans could soon be using video calling to chat with other red apes in captivity around the world.

Orangutan iPad
Orangutan iPad

Earlier in the year we covered Apps for Apes, an initiative to get a special area created in the iTunes App Store for apps designed especially for Orangutans. Now, MJ, Mahal, and the other red apes in Milwaukee County Zoo will be getting some more high-tech stimulation: their enclosures are receiving Wi-Fi, in order for the Orangutans to use video calling to see others in other zoos and wildlife preserves around the world. Best of all, the rest of us will be able to snoop the meetings, watching how the animals react to seeing one another.

Trish Kahn, the zoo's primate coordinator told AFP that "We're excited to see where that goes. It could be they don't care at all, but, from what I understand of them, I think they're definitely going to be able to understand this is real time and they're looking at another orangutan." The project is enabled by donations of old iPads to the Orangutan Outreach charity, which distributes the hardware to zoos in order to make life in captivity more bearable for the intelligent animals.