[monkeywire] Online dating is planned for orangutans

Josh Greenman josh.greenman at gmail.com
Tue Aug 15 18:47:23 EDT 2006


http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/2006-08-15-orangutan-online-dating_x.htm?POE=TECISVA

Online dating is planned for orangutans

Posted 8/15/2006 2:02 PM ET

By Mike Corder, Associated Press

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Single male (red hair, long arms, interests
include hanging in trees and grooming) seeks female for long-distance
relationship and possibility of meeting up in future to help save
species.

Zookeepers in the Netherlands are planning to hook up Dutch and
Indonesian orangutans over the Internet and believe the link could at
some stage be used as an online dating service where apes could get to
know one another and keepers could work out whether they would be
compatible mates.

First things first: A romantic dinner for two.

"We are going to set up an Internet connection between Indonesia and
Apeldoorn so that the apes can see each other and, by means of
pressing a button, be able to give one another food, for example,"
said Anouk Ballot, a spokeswoman for the Apenheul ape park in the
central Dutch city of Apeldoorn.

She said the chance of two orangutans actually mating as a result of
the online interaction was small due to the problem of transporting
them between the Netherlands and Indonesia. "But I wouldn't rule it
out completely," she told The Associated Press.

Ballot said the primary aim of the computer link between Apenheul and
an orangutan center on the Indonesian part of Borneo was to raise
public awareness of the apes and their plight. Activists say that the
spread of palm oil plantations, coupled with logging, especially on
Malaysian and Indonesian territories on Borneo island, is threatening
animals such as wild orangutans with extinction by chewing up their
native jungle habitat.

Ballot said that, in the past, captive orangutans separated by a wall
have communicated with one another via a mirror placed in front of the
two enclosures. Using webcams and computer screens is an extension of
that, she said.

She stressed that only orangutans who show a natural interest and
aptitude will take part. The Apenheul park has 13 orangutans among its
collection of apes.

There is still work to be done to set up the Internet connection. "We
need to find ape-proof cables and screens," Ballot said, adding that
the zoo hopes to have the orangutans online by the end of this year or
early 2007.

So next time you run into someone in a chatroom and think "what a
baboon," think twice: it just might be.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press.



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