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Orangutan will use ‘Tinder’ to find her mate — but first needs a tablet she can’t smash

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Tinder-style dating hits the zoo

An orangutan plays with an iPad in another program called Apps for Apes
Orangutan Outreach

Scientists at a Dutch zoo want to test Tinder on a female orangutan to study how the animals make their mating choices. The 11-year-old orangutan, called Samboja, lives in the Apenheul primate park in Apeldoorn. Scientists hope that by showing her images of potential mates on a touchscreen tablet they can observe how she responds and learn whether appearance alone has an effect on orangutans’ love life, according to The Guardian.

The four-year-old research program, called Tinder for Orangutans, is part of a larger study into the role of emotions in animal relationships. “Emotion is of huge evolutionary importance,” Thomas Bionda, a behavioral biologist at the zoo, told Dutch broadcaster NOS, according to The Guardian. “If you don’t interpret an emotion correctly in the wild, it can be the end of you.”

This isn’t the first time scientists have introduced tablets to non-human primates. A few years ago, a program called Apps for Apes at US and Canadian zoos provided orangutans with Apple iPads so they could watch videos of themselves and finger paint. The orangutans weren’t allowed to actually hold the iPads, because the tablets weren’t strong enough to withstand the blows.

The researchers at Tinder for Orangutans in the Netherlands are encountering the same problems. One tablet was reinforced with a steel frame, but Samboja still managed to smash it. Before scientists can try to increase Samboja’s breeding chances by testing Tinder, they’ll have to find a touchscreen tablet that’s resistant enough for the orangutan.

That might be a bit of a challenge. As The Guardian notes, Samboja’s mom Sandy is affectionately known in the zoo as Demolition Woman.