Milwaukee County Zoo

September 5, 2011 by USA Post 

Milwaukee County ZooMilwaukee County Zoo, Primates across America are discovering the Apple iPhone – and that includes Mahal and his surrogate mother, MJ, two orangutans from the Milwaukee County Zoo.

The zoo is using four iPads donated, plus others that belong to a volunteer, enrichment activities, which include free applications (finger painting, music) and videos of other animals in the zoo.

Guardians are also considering use of Skype, an online video chat program to connect to other zoos orangutans with others. MJ, for example, came from a zoo in Toledo in 2007 and could revise the old gang back in Toledo.

Other zoos, including Zoo Atlanta, the use of touch screens with orangutans, but the Milwaukee County Zoo is the only U.S. iPads. Orangutan Outreach, a nonprofit organization working on behalf of the endangered orangutan, is working with zoos in the implementation of similar programs.

IPad Milwaukee project – described as an “embryo” orangutan manager Trish Khan – began with a joke for April fool’s Day The Sun newspaper in Britain. It published a story about a gorilla that got his hands on a man’s iPhone, influenced by the “Angry Birds” app game and caused all sorts of problems for the owner of the iPad.

Claire Richard, the head keeper of gorillas in Milwaukee County Zoo, had access to the report and published an article in Facebook: “I want one of these for Maji (one of the gorillas at the zoo).”

A friend, Kim Zoo Pride volunteers Houk, responded, “How cool it would be; get one for Mahal, also”

It is described as “friend of the zoo,” Scott Engel, a freelance photographer, application developer and a big fan of Mahal, saw the note and had a message from Richard himself:

“I can make this happen.”

Engel donated an iPhone of their own and more often – including one from a customer at an Apple store who heard him discuss his idea of?? Bringing iPads great apes in the zoo. Engel was a volunteer working with MJ on the iPad and asked if he would like a couple more, so they donated two new iPads.

The gorillas were wary of the new device, and remain so.

“Everybody was scared,” said Richard, the primary gorilla keeper. “It’s a different species. Orangutans are curious about everything. Gorillas are afraid of everything.

“Because it’s something new and different, they are real, even hesitant to approach. Hodari, the youngest (16), had the greatest curiosity. … Hodari was able to discover the finger painting,” said Richard.

“Maji (an older gorilla) just wanted to break it. He could not understand what the whole thing was and just wanted to grab him.”

However, the curious orangutans were another story.

First Look Mahal on the iPad was a picture of himself. His reaction: he threw his arms into the air and clapped his hands.

“They were fascinated,” said Engel. “One of the first things he did was take advantage of the integrated camera on the iPad, and turn on the camera, they are used to looking in a mirror and recognize themselves.”

Engel, and the guards searched for other ways to use iPad and came up with videos of other animals at the zoo in Milwaukee, as well as other zoos.

MJ likes to watch videos of Tommy, a male orangutan who was separated from Mahal and MJ for about a year later became gross Mahal.

“Mahal loves penguins,” said Engel, who made a video of them at lunchtime. “He sat looking at them, arms folded across his chest. He jumped back when the penguins waving a wing.”

Engel also produced a short video: V=MMuz9fSZThE & feature = portraying Mahal as a secret agent called 00 ¾, with music and images of comic spy Mahal on its grounds, making a fool in a box and covered with an old sheet. Is your favorite video?

Khan and Engel also use free applications – some of them mimicking the enrichment activities that already use, but with less mess, as the application of finger paint.

“The reason I liked that one is, if I give them regular finger paint, eat ‘em,” said Richard. “It’s like a pudding of color.”

Much of the iPhone use is out of the cup, but Khan also allows orangutans to touch the screen through a screen on the part of your site. Her long nails preventing them from touching the screen, so owners should have the iPhone at an angle.

“We’re realizing that you can not use the entire screen,” said Khan. “We are solving problems, and orangutans.”

Orangutans take part in these activities without food rewards – a bonus, said Khan.

“We are always looking for activities with these institutions, without the calories,” said Khan. “So does that are purely self-interest. Not for a grape.”

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