Tinder for apes? Orangutans test out computer dating

HOW does a primate find a date when they’re confined to an urban jungle?

HAPPY APE. An eleven-year-old female Sumatran Orangutan enjoys a snack at the National Zoo Ape Center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. There are two species of orangutan: the Sumatran and the Bornean. (AP FOTO)

Orangutans in a Netherlands zoo may get a high-tech helping hand thanks to a research project that is being likened to a Tinder dating app for apes.

The research at the Apenheul primate park, on the outskirts of the Dutch city of Apeldoorn, is investigating the emotional responses of orangutans and bonobos to images of the same species they are shown on a touch screen.

Biologist Thomas Bionda said the screen could help determine an ape’s preference between prospective mates as part of a breeding program.

“We want to help our animals and maybe other zoos’ animals to make a choice,” Bionda said in a telephone interview. “Animals have to like each other.”

Bionda hopes that having apes check out images on a computer screen could help determine the compatibility of a prospective pair.

In the meantime, the primate park has another problem — building an orangutan-proof touch screen. The screen in the primates’ sleeping area was recently destroyed by a young female called Samboja.

Orangutans, which are native to Indonesia and Malaysia, are among the most intelligent of primates but are considered critically endangered. (AP)


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