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Smithsonian Zoo launches 'App for Apes' iPad project

If you have an extra iPad laying around and feel like donating it to a unique cause, the Apps for Apes program might be the one for you. Launched last year, the program gives iPads to various types of apes, including orangutans, to enrich their leisure and education environments. Now the Smithsonian Zoo is the latest to get in on the Apps for Apes program.

From a Smithsonian zoo blog posting explaining the program:

The Zoo began participating in the Apps for Apes program last year, when a keeper's family member donated an iPad to the Great Ape House. Malinsky and fellow animal keeper Erin Stromberg talked with the other program participants to determine which apps were the most popular among orangutans. In the past few months, the Zoo's repertoire has grown to more than 10 apps, including musical instruments, cognitive games, drawing programs and others. Eventually, the Zoo hopes to connect its orangutans with those at other zoos using video conferencing platforms.

"Apps for Apes is all about giving orangutans in human care choice over their environment," said Stromberg. "With the iPad, we're hoping to tap less into the critical-thinking outlet and more into a creative outlet. If they're engaged in an app, we'll keep going. If not, they have the choice to walk away."

Check out the video below to see some apes with iPads in action. Notable apps shown in the video include Apple's Garage Band (US$4.99) and Koi Pond ($0.99). If readers would like to contribute more apps the the program they can do so by purchasing an iTunes gift card through the Giving Tree on the Zoo's website or they can contact Orangutan Outreach directly to donate an iPad.

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