Apps for Apes

*Photo has been modified. The orangutans are not yet holding the iPads due to safety concerns. Photo © Scott Engel. Please contact us if you wish to use the image.

Check out some iPad action at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest.


Quirks and Quarks: The Apps for Apes bit starts at around 27:30 and goes for around 20 minutes. Great piece!

Apps for Apes?

Orangutans are highly intelligent creatures who 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. They like to choose everything from their afternoon snack to their daytime companions and sleeping area. What they do each day depends on how they feel, and the more choices they have, the better. Just like humans, orangutans like options. The quality of life of orangutans living in zoos and sanctuaries is dependent on the amount and type of enrichment they receive on a daily basis. 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.

The 3 Goals of Apps for Apes

  1. To provide stimulating enrichment & immediate gratification for the orangutans using iPads,
  2. To raise awareness among zoo visitors of the critical need to protect orangutans in the wild, and
  3. To promote the conservation efforts of Orangutan Outreach


Special Thanks

National GeographicWe would like to extend a special thanks to our friends at NatGeo, who are providing us with free, gently used iPads. Because of their generosity, we are able to grow the Apps for Apes program internationally and extend it to all non-human primates!

Who's involved?

In the News

We have been getting a lot of awesome attention in the media. Here are some of stories

Video Clips


In loving memory of Mahal

Mahal was the first orangutan to use an iPad and he quickly became the face of the Apps for Apes program. He passed away in December 2012. Apps for Apes is dedicated to his memory... Read more


The Apps for Apes project is a work in progress. Contact us with any questions, comments or offers of support!