September 02, 2014 09:07 UTC

Science & Technology

Orangutans With iPads

We follow up with the nonprofit organization Orangutan Outreach to answer questions in your comments | TECHNOLOGY REPORT

Orangutan OutreachOrangutan Outreach
x
Orangutan Outreach
Orangutan Outreach

Multimedia

Play or download an MP3 of this story
From VOA Learning English, this is the Technology Report in Special English.
 
Recently we reported on a program called Apps for Apes. It was started by the New York-based nonprofit organization Orangutan Outreach. The program which introduces Apple’s iPad to orangutans in zoos sparked an interest among our listeners. We decided to answer some of the questions they sent in.
But first, we had our own question: how to pronounce the name of the ape. Many people wrongly say "orangutang," with a G at the end. Maybe, because orangutans are orange, people relate the name to the color. But there is no connection. Orangutan Outreach’s Richard Zimmerman explains where the name came from.
 
“People in Malaysia and Indonesia would say orang hu tan and it's -- actually, it doesn’t mean orange. Orang is the Malay or Indonesian word for man or human, and utan comes from hutan with an H, which means forest. So essentially, orangutan means person of the forest.”
 
One of our listeners asked how orangutans would react to seeing another orangutan using the iPad when they themselves are not using it. Mr. Zimmerman explains that the orangutans all want to use the tablet when they see it. This desire could come from wanting the same attention that the caretaker gives the ape using the device.
 
Mr. Zimmerman told us what happens in a situation where the mother of a baby orangutan uses the iPad with an animal caretaker. The baby orangutan will see the iPad and will jump over wanting to become involved. In this case, he advises having two iPads and two caretakers to work with the mother and the baby.
 
Another example comes from an animal sanctuary in Florida.
 
“At the Center for Great Apes in Florida, when we do the enrichment sessions with Mari, a female orangutan, Pongo, with whom she lives, who is a big male, he gets jealous and wants the attention. So he comes running over and wants to use the iPad.” 
 
Another listener asked us if orangutans react to seeing iPads being used by visitors to a zoo. Mr. Zimmerman says this behavior has not necessarily been documented. But he says orangutans are used to having their pictures taken with other devices.
 
“The orangutans are used to people taking photos of them, so either pointing at them with a camera or a phone, so more of the smaller devices, rather than an iPad.” 
 
Mr. Zimmerman adds that the orangutans do recognize the iPad, but to know what they are thinking is a bit more difficult.
 
Any mind readers out there who can tell us what a great ape is thinking? Or has someone developed an app for that, too?
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jean
04/03/2013 2:08 AM
Very interesting topic.


by: Bach Yen from: Saigon
04/03/2013 1:35 AM
I like this story because I'm one of many people used to think that orangutan means apes with yellow hair. Thank you so much.


by: Anonymous
04/02/2013 5:07 AM
can not listen the audio in China.


by: bambi from: HK
04/01/2013 11:10 PM
Orangutans are cute:) I didn't know the meaning and where did the name come from. Thank you. I guess the case they are interested into Ipad is just similar with the monkey grab our foods in HK.

Learn with The News

  • Employee seen behind glass door of Alibaba's company headquarters on the outskirts of Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, April 23, 2014.

    Audio Alibaba Seeks to Raise Billions in IPO

    The Chinese online company could raise $20 billion by selling stock to the public in the U.S. The company holds an 80 percent share of China’s online market. More

  • Ethnic Rohingya refugees from Myanmar wave as they are transported by a wooden boat to a temporary shelter in Krueng Raya in Aceh Besar, Indonesia, April 8, 2013.

    Audio UN: Boat People Fleeing Myanmar, Bangladesh

    The United Nations says there has been a sudden increase in people fleeing Myanmar and Bangladesh by boat. Activists fear the number will continue to rise as refugees leave unclean camps and violence in Myanmar. They say that is especially true of ethnic Rohingya. More

  • Morgan County dispatcher Larry Holmes talks with a woman reporting a domestic disturbance as deputies respond to her location Friday, April 28, 2007, in Versailles, Mo. Because the 911 call came in on a landline, the address of the disturbance was immedia

    Audio It's an Emergency in Any Language

    In most countries, people can make a telephone call to ask for medical or police help using just three numbers. In the European Union, the number is 1-1-2. Some Asian countries use 9-9-9. In North America, the number is 9-1-1. More

  • A UNICEF worker shares information on Ebola and best practices to help prevent its spread with residents of the Matam neighborhood of Conakry, Guinea in this handout photo courtesy of UNICEF taken Aug. 20, 2014.

    Audio Conflicts, Ebola Put More Demands on UNICEF

    UNICEF says August has been its busiest month for emergency airlifts in the past 10 years. Some of the supplies going to Syria and Iraq are designed to help children deal with the effects of conflict. Some have gone to Liberia for use against the disease Ebola. More

  • FILE - A Vietnamese boy looks at dairy products at a showroom of the Vietnam Dairy Products Co (Vinamilk) in Hanoi.

    Audio Vietnam, We Have a Nutrition Problem

    Vietnam has a nutrition problem: too many of its children are underweight. Yet more and more Vietnamese boys and girls are becoming overweight. The two conditions may appear to be separate, but they are linked. They are both the result of poor diets. More

Featured Stories

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs