"It's really just a matter of getting the technology and equipment here," Jacobs said. "There's not a doubt in my mind that they could do it and would be marvelous at it, and I think the public would absolutely love it."
It's important to note that training the orangutans isn't done to entertain Jungle Island workers or guests. Because the animals are so intelligent, Jacobs said their minds must be kept active to prevent them from getting bored or depressed. The challenge is making the enrichment activities enjoyable.
"They need a lot of stimulation," Jacobs said. "Training isn't mandatory, but they love it."
Scientist and conservationist Birute Mary Galdikas, founder of Orangutan Foundation International, said orangutans are among the most intelligent animals. Orangutans in the wild, where Galdikas has studied the apes for more than four decades, routinely use tools to scratch themselves, swat insects and create simple shelters. In captivity, Galdikas said orangutans have demonstrated remarkable creative-thinking skills, specifically in their ability to escape enclosures.
"Anything that Jungle Island can do to help their orangutans while away the day is to be commended," Galdikas said. "IPads seem to work for humans. It's not surprising that orangutans, who share 97 percent of their genetic material with humans, like them, too."
Miss Millie Foundation, http://missmillie.org
Jungle Island, http://jungleisland.com
Orangutan Outreach, http://redapes.org
Orangutan Foundation International, http://orangutan.org
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