Microsoft's Skype used for Orangutan entertainment at the Cameron Park Zoo in TexasWritten by Ron on April 23, 2013 - 10:01AM @ronwinbeta
We're not sure if this is taking technology too far or if this is just plain genius. In Waco, Texas, at the Cameron Park Zoo, Microsoft's Skype messaging and video calling service is being used by orangutans! Yes you read right!
At the Cameron Park Zoo, Skype is being used as a 'form of enrichment' for the orangutans (Mei and Mukah). Trainers regard the two orangutans with treats for completing tasks like touching the computer screen, interacting with a drawing, or even drumming musical apps and making sounds. These two orangutans will even partake in video calls hosted with other animals at other zoos!
Mei and Mukah are no strangers to Skype video calling as they both make 'guest appearances' via a video call during an interview the exhibit curator had with Fuji television in Japan. "Mei was across the enclosure when I started the interview. As soon as the reporter called out Mei’s name, she got really excited and came down to watch the screen attentively for the rest of the call," Terri Cox stated. She's the Programs and Exhibits Curator at Cameron Park Zoo.
The best part about using technology to interact with animals is the fact that Skype video calls can be used with local schools! Now kids can partake in a video conference with the orangutans. "We've got lots of activities to explore. We're thinking of doing some video conference sessions with region 12 school systems in Texas classrooms in the spring. It doesn't have to just be orangutans - we'd like to include elephants, too, which are also quite intelligent," Cox added. Technology has sure come a long way.