Zoo Introduces Apps For Apes - New York News

Zoo Introduces Apps For Apes

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HOUSTON, TX -

They're still learning, but no doubt these apes are adapting to apps.

"Their drawings are very abstract..." describes lead trainer Helen Boostrom. "Kind of like that level where you can't really tell what they're drawing."

The intelligence and personalities of chimpanzees are often compared to that of a toddler, they like to draw, color and flip through picture books.

Helen Boostrom is the lead trainer for the Apps for Apes program. She's been studying animal behaviors and how well the great apes can pick up on the iPad. Interestingly enough, she says, it's the females and younger ones who are fascinated.

"It took them a while to watch the others using it and now pretty much all of them except our two older males know how the iPads work," describes Boostrom.

Naturally, great apes are problem solvers. So for those in captivity, Boostrom says, it's important to continue to challenge them. She can do that by changing the settings or skill level on the apps.

"Older females were very interested in the apps that kind of require focus, so like the fishing where they had to do specific things. Whereas the juveniles would lose interest very quickly," says Boostrom.

Juveniles, like Willy, the youngest chimp who was the first to pick up on the iPad. Boostrom's trained pretty much all them, her biggest challenge is finding new apps and fun games because once they master the concept, it's game-over.

"If they've seen it a million times, they're like, 'I've already done that'...so it's me trying to always find new apps and new things that still have that interest with them," she says.

Helen says she's even introduced the iPads to the orangutans, and even though they are a different species, the findings were the same: the young ones are more receptive to the technology.

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