February 7, 2017

A Dating App for lonely Orangutans

A Dating App for lonely Orangutans

Female orangutans at a Dutch zoo can now find partners via a special dating app for apes. Photo Credit: WWF

An online dating site for lonely orangutans? Now there’s an idea!

A Dutch zoo, in the city of Apeldoorn, has created a dating app for its resident orangutans as part of a captive breeding program. Researchers at the Apenheul Primate Park want to study the emotional responses of the apes when they are shown images of other orangutans on an “orangutan-proof” touchscreen in order to see their preferences.

“We want to help our animals and maybe other zoos’ animals to make a choice,” Thomas Bionda, a biologist, told The Associated Press. “Animals have to like each other.” In other words, the experts who run the dating app want to make sure that the apes find suitable partners for themselves.

After seeing photos of potential partners kept elsewhere, the zoo’s female apes, including Samboja, can push a button on the screen, which then helps researchers monitor their preferences. “Apenheul wants to know if female orangutans like Samboja, looking at pictures on a tablet, can show a preference for potential mates, before they are flown to the Netherlands,” a local paper explained.

It isn’t just orangutans that can use the Tinder-like app. The park’s bonobos, also known as pygmy chimpanzees, have access to it, as well. So who do female orangutans and bonobos find a suitable partner? A male with a positive attitude, the researchers say. Males that are shown to be engaged in grooming appear to be better liked by female orangutans and bonobos.

“The study shows that primates pay attention to the emotions of their peers,” the park explained. “We now know, for example, that bonobos use body language to recognise emotions.”

Male orangutans had better shape up then. The ladies clearly prefer real gentlemen.



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