Apps for Apes, Anyone?

Michelle Obama

Ground-breaking First Lady Michelle Obama

Is it just me, or do others think the Orangutans and their handlers at the Smithsonian National Zoo would be better served by spending personal shovel time in First Lady Michelle Obama’s organic garden, rather than staring out of cages and poking at iPad apps?

After participating in the strenuous physical exertion of tilling the soil, how about a picnic? But preferably not eating the greens grown at the White House. (Turns out that while Bill and Hill were living at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave in the 1990’s, the White House lawn — now home to Mrs. Obama’s family farm — was enriched with fertilizer produced from sludge. Like so many things that the Clintons have touched, they left behind a distinctly unpleasant residue.)

Okay, clearly it is more practical to keep the wild primates in their cages and off the White House grounds. After all, bringing out an animal’s inner Brubeck is a more highly evolved use of an App than what can be expected from the behavior of a typical teenager.

Typical Teen Apping Out

Typical Teen Apping Out

The Smithsonian National Zoo has implemented Apps for Apes with the best intentions:

Orangutans are highly intelligent creatures that require mental stimulation to keep from growing bored and depressed. Every orangutan is a unique individual with his or her own particular likes and dislikes, and freedom of choice is critical to their well-being…. With the Apps for Apes project, we propose to introduce Apple iPad technology to orangutans in order to provide them with unlimited enrichment opportunities. The iPad is a perfect device for orangutans, as they have an innate ability to work with touchscreen technology. This has been demonstrated in facilities such as Zoo Atlanta, the Great Ape Trust and the Smithsonian National Zoo. With proper guidance, orangutans will be able to use their devices just like humans do– to spend their time doing things that they enjoy. They will have access to music, musical instruments, cognitive games, art, painting, drawing, photos and videos. Among other things, they will be able to see photos and videos of other orangutans.

Let’s hope that this innovative leap forward in application technology does not lead to any unintended consequences!

Pres Barack Hussein Obama and VP Joseph Biden look at an app on an iPhone

Pres Barack Hussein Obama and VP Joseph Biden look at an app on an iPhone. Official WH photo used for satirical purposes only.

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