Orangutans at the Ouwanes Zoo in Renen use touchscreen computers as part of an international research project on emotions and intelligence. Scientists say this increases the chances of finding a companion.

The system is called “The Tinder of the Apes,” but researchers say it’s more complicated than a date app. They also want to show more people how smart orangutans are and have a positive impact on their protection in the wild.

The animal does not swipe left or right to find the most qualified partner, but uses the touch screen to play the game and measure attention, memory, excitement level, etc.

“Women may be transferred to another zoo as part of a breeding program,” said project leader and cognitive psychologist Mariska Klett. “So far, this was based on a genetic profile, but it doesn’t take into account personal preferences. I’d like to see if I can predict if it’s a match.”

This project is being carried out by Leiden University and Ouwehands Zoo and is part of an international breeding project. Orangutans are on the World Wide Fund for Nature’s “Endangered” list.

It’s up to the orangutans themselves to decide if they want to get involved, Klett said. Previous studies have shown that apes performing computer tasks are less stressful. “It’s a welcome pastime for them too. It’s a form of challenge and relaxation,” she said.

Other studies will look at whether orangutans in the zoo show a smile. “Do they do the same as humans? Emotions are very contagious to us, but what about apes?” Klet says.

This is the first time that this kind of research has been seen by the general public. “People can see how orangutans can perform computer tasks and see the emotions of their peers in the process, which is unique,” Klett said.

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