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Tinder for apes? Dutch orangutans test out computer dating

News Desk

Associated Press

The Hague, Netherlands  /  Thu, February 2, 2017  /  01:17 pm
Tinder for apes? Dutch orangutans test out computer dating

In this Dec. 31, 2015, file photo, Tsunami, an eleven year old female Sumatran Orangutan eats fruit during her birthday celebration at the National Zoo Ape Center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Primates are heading toward an extinction crisis, a new international study warns. And it’s our fault that our closest biological relatives are in trouble, scientists said. About 60 percent of the more than 500 primate species, such as gorillas, monkeys and lemurs, are “now threatened with extinction” and three out of four primate species have shrinking populations, according to a study by 31 primate experts published in the Jan. 18, 2017, journal Science Advances. (AP Photo/Joshua Paul)

How does a primate find a date when they're confined to an urban jungle?

Orangutans in a Dutch zoo may get a high-tech helping hand thanks to a research project that is being likened to a Tinder dating app for apes.

The research at the Apenheul primate park, on the outskirts of the Dutch city of Apeldoorn, is investigating the emotional responses of orangutans and bonobos to images of the same species they are shown on a touch screen.

(Read also: World's primates facing extinction crisis, new report says)

Biologist Thomas Bionda said Wednesday the screen could help determine an ape's preference between prospective mates as part of a breeding program.

"We want to help our animals and maybe other zoos' animals to make a choice," Bionda said in a telephone interview. "Animals have to like each other."

Bionda hopes that having apes check out images on a computer screen could help determine the compatibility of a prospective pair.

In the meantime, the primate park has another problem — building an orangutan-proof touch screen. The screen in the primates' sleeping area was recently destroyed by a young female called Samboja.

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