Apes go high-tech with iPads and apps at the KC Zoo

Zoo uses iPads to help challenge Orangutans

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The sound of bongos and the keyboard coming from the Orangutan Canopy at the Kansas City Zoo is not just background noise. With a closer look, you'll see the orangutans are actually playing the tunes on donated iPads. 

It's part of a national program called Apps for Apes, organized by Orangutan Outreach. 

"They gather these donated iPads that people aren't using and hook zoos up with them so we can use them for our orangutans," said Amy Sarno, the team lead in the Australasia section of the zoo. 

The KC Zoo has been working with their apes on the technology for the last couple years.

"We don't like to do it too much where it loses it's novelty," said Sarno. "But we do it at least a couple times a month. Even if it's just showing them themselves in the camera feature."

The iPads help challenge the apes in a new way.

"Orangutans are very intelligent," said Sarno. "They have really complex cognitive abilities, and they're always problem solving and thinking things over. So, we as zookeepers are always challenged to see how we can meet that level for them."

One of the Orangutans have a favorite app called Koi Pond.

"It's got little animated fish in the water, and when their fingers hit the screen, there's noise that the water makes and the fish move around, so it's interactive on a couple levels," said Sarno.

The apes also enjoy creating their own music on the bongos and keyboard. Some also like drawing on one of the several artistic apps.

If you'd like to learn more about the national program or learn how you can donate an iPad, click here

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