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Apes Love Their iPads Too
Turns out, the same is true of our just-slightly-less-smart relatives, the great apes. In a story very unsettling to those of us who have seen The Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the BBC reports that captive primates get bored, and show signs of frustration and stress as a result. Fay Clark from the Royal Veterinary College's Center for Animal Welfare told the BBC, "If an ape does not receive enough cognitive challenge in life, this can lead to abnormal behaviours or a lack of interest in the environment." Just like me and my coworkers!
One thing that keeps the primates entertained is—wait for it—video games. The BBC story is full of great anecdotes: The orangutans at Zoo Atlanta get small pellets of food for performing matching tasks on a screen hidden in a tree (incidentally, I want one of those), but they will keep playing for fun even after their pellet rewards run out. And the lucky orangutans at Toronto Zoo get to play with iPads. Super-smart chimp Ai loves playing memory games on a screen. (Visit the BBC site for an amazing picture of an orangutan with his iPad, and other fascinating photos of these clever creatures.) While these tasks are certainly artificial, at least one researcher suggests that computer games enrich the primates' lives: "In a sense, I think, the tasks are their 'Sudoku',"says Professor John David Smith, who teaches macaque monkeys to play joystick games.
It makes me think about the relationship all of us have with our many screen-y amusements, from iPads to laptops, Kindles to smart phones. In a way, we're all providing ourselves with little moments of fun throughout the day—a round of Words With Friends during an afternoon coffee break; some blood-pressure-lowering imagery after a stressful meeting. All things in moderation, of course, but if a screen can help you relieve some of the stress of, ah, living in captivity as it were, then by all means, scroll on!
Finding fun as an adult.
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