A zoo in the Netherlands hopes to increase mating in orangutans by allowing females to select their mate using a touch screen.
Apenheul primate park in Apeldoorn implemented the four-year program known as “Tinder for orangutans” to gain insight on how female orangutans choose their mates so the zoo can increase the chance of creating a successful encounter, according to The Guardian.
“Often, animals have to be taken back to the zoo they came from without mating,” behavioural biologist Thomas Bionda said. “Things don’t always go well when a male and a female first meet.”
The zoo’s 11-year-old female orangutan Samboja will be shown photos of males to allow researchers to study how she reads emotions and which she determines to be positive, according to Dutch News.
“If an emotion is misinterpreted in nature it can well be fatal,” Bionda said.
If successful, the project hopes to determine whether appearance alone is enough to determine orangutan attraction.
“This is completely digital, of course,” Bionda said. “Usually, smell plays an important role too. But with the orangutans, it will be what you see is what you get.”
The zoo’s first obstacle has been constructing a tablet that can survive the less than gentle touch of the female orangutans.
One tablet with a steel frame managed to survive tests with two older orangutans but was quickly demolished by Smboja’s mother Sandy, who is also known as Demolition Woman.