October 20, 2014 08:07 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

  • Local residents shout to a pro-democracy protester at a main street at Mong kok district in Hong Kong Friday, Oct. 17, 2014.

    Audio Will Hong Kong Unrest Affect Politics in Taiwan?

    Voters in Taiwan are preparing to choose to vote in local elections that may be partly shaped by protests in Hong Kong. As the election gets closer, leaders of both of the country’s main political parties are being pressured to strongly support democracy activists in Hong Kong. More

  • north korean balloon

    Video Activists to Continue Launching Balloons into North Korea

    An earlier launch across the border led to an exchange of gunfire between North and South Korean troops. South Korean leaders have asked activists to stop launching balloons, but do not have the power to make them do so. | As It Is More

  • African Cheetahs

    Audio Is Cheetah Fast Enough to Survive?

    In 1900, about 100,000 cheetahs lived in the world. Today there are only 10,000 of the animals. It appears that the cheetah is vulnerable to attacks by other animals because of its physiology -- the way its body operates. The cat simply burns a lot of calories -- the energy produced by food. More

  • South Sudan Africa Predicting Famine

    Audio Report: Two Billion Suffer from 'Hidden Hunger'

    People who suffer from hidden hunger have enough to eat, but the quality of their food is low. Ten of the 14 countries with the highest rate of "hidden hunger" are located south of the Saharan Desert in Africa. Several Southeast Asian and South Asian countries have improved since 1990. More

  • Foad, the brother of 15 year-old Nora who left her home in Avignon for Syria nine months ago, shows a portrait he took last September on his cell phone as he attends an interview with Reuters in Paris, Oct. 6, 2014.

    Audio European Women Answer the Call of Jihad

    Hundreds of young Europeans and others have joined jihadist groups in the Middle East. Experts estimate that up to 10 percent of the new members are women. These women are reacting to the lure, or appeal, of a pure Islamic state. And they seem to like the idea of fighting in combat for the jihadists More

Featured Stories

  • Millions of years of history, which can be found on the ocean floor, are collected and analyzed at the Core Repository in New York.

    Video Scientists Create New Maps of Ocean Floor

    Until recently, scientists had mapped only about 20 percent of the sea floor. But our knowledge of the deep seas is changing because of information from satellites. Scientists have produced a new map that provides a detailed picture of the oceans. More

  • General George McClellan created a strong Union force, but he worried he did not have enough men to defeat the Confederacy.

    Audio McClellan Approaches Richmond ... And Waits

    The North and South clashed in a series of battles called the Seven Days Campaign. The struggle saved the Confederacy but came at a terrible price. More

  • Solar Storm

    Audio How to Weather a Solar Storm

    The sun’s energy creates light and heat. It also produces charged electrical particles and magnetic fields. The sun can keep the earth nice and warm and helps our crops to grow. But a sudden burst of that solar energy can cause a power outage. More

  • Video Sting, War, Lou Reed for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

    Rock and Roll Hall of Fame officials nominated Green Day, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Chic, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and Kraftwerk. Also included were The Marvelettes, N.W.A., Nine Inch Nails, The Spinners and The Smiths. | American Mosaic More

  • COLUMBUS

    Columbus Discovers America

    Generations of schoolchildren have been taught that Christopher Columbus discovered the New World. In fact, the second Monday in October is celebrated as a national holiday, Columbus Day, to honor the European explorer. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs