What a zoo!

Apps and Animals For Your Wild Side

Bonnie may live behind bars, but she still likes to bang on drums while fellow resident Kyle enjoys playing the piano. Both musicians are wild animals when it comes to making sounds on a tablet, but that’s not a backhanded compliment. These two inmates are, in reality, orangutans.

And just when you thought only humans are able to embrace the world’s newest tech culture, right?

Well, not so, say the apes who are going bananas over their ability to use iPads at the Smithsonian’s esteemed National Zoo. In fact, the Apps for Apes program — an Orangutan outreach initiative seen in action at this progressive place for endangered animals in Washington, D.C. — is working to enrich future primate quality in this zoo and in about a dozen others around the world.

In fact, just this week, a report from The Houston Zoo states that primates in house have started learning iPad technology. With that task at hand, Helen Boostrom, a keeper at this particular Texas facility, is proud to say that the chimpanzees in her neck of the woods are, indeed, «adapting to apps.» In doing so, and because these primates have long nails that don’t seem to handily trigger the features on their tablets, the primates are using their knuckles instead.

Hey, why not? After all, if one method of embracing new technology doesn’t work, most of us don’t just quit. Instead, we just try another way. In fact, according to Boostrom, learning how to use an iPad is not the biggest challenge for her apes. Finding new apps to capture their interest is the ultimate conundrum.

Well, we’re here to help the apes as well as the humans expand horizons when it comes to branching out in the name of fresh technology. This is especially so when encroaching on zoo business, because, after all, who doesn’t like to venture forth and mingle with all sorts of creatures typically found only in the wild?

Like me, most New Yorkers have been told as kids that the Bronx Zoo is the best zoo in the our part of the world. While that may or may not be true, taking in the storied outpost while armed with the renowned facility’s handy iPhone app is a great way for city slickers to start learning about wild animals. This resource is also a great way to find out how the world at large is trying to keep as many of these glorious critters from facing extinction.

At this point, thousands of animals are swiftly headed that way. In fact, a sad but true app from the Center for Biological Diversity called Species Finder will tell you just which endangered species are living in the place where us Americans happen to be thriving.

On a lighter note, the same developer that helps find animals in jeopardy of extinction also came out with the Wild Calls app for iPhone. By simply pushing a button on your mobile, you’ll get a chance to hear how an endangered species sounds while in its natural habitat. So, as you plan your next zoo run, listen to the African elephants call and hear the distinctive «who» of a feathered friend known as the Boreal owl. Talk about volume!

And so, with that app installed, it’s onto planning the ultimate zoo encounter so you can visit with all the animals you’ve now only heard and possibly read about. Arguably, the best zoo in the world is the one found in Singapore. This Southeast Asian outpost provides homes for more than 2,800 animals and more than 300 species of mammals, birds and reptiles. All these critters live in a fascinating rainforest environment that comes complete with a flowing river and an abundance of open enclosures.

Happily, last year the super selective Singapore Zoo went digital with a program called Education@zoo. This iPhone app is a great on-site companion, providing the ultimate learning journey while on this zoo’s intriguing premises. In order to keep track of all the facts and figures gathered along the way through this novel Singapore retreat, the fresh resource also contains a fun quiz about the animals that thrive in this habitat, keeping the knowledge going in a fun and easy way.

#03 — Education@Zoo

By Nanyang Polytechnic

Category: Education

Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Requires IOS.

4.0 or later.

Meanwhile, while the Singapore Zoo may be the most popular, you have to wonder which are among the most unusual zoos in the world.

One is surely the Tisch Family Jerusalem Biblical Zoo. Featured at this wild animal park that debuted way back in 1940 are animals described in the Hebrew Bible. Sadly, many of these critters have become extinct in Israel, but breeding programs have brought back nearly a dozen of the species that once were gone from the country’s natural reserves. A new iPhone app offers assistance for those who make their way to this particular zoo with GPS navigation, elaborate information about the animals who live in this Middle Eastern outpost, and a photo-sharing resource.

Meanwhile, if you want your zoo experience to go to the birds, then you must plan an excursion to the International Centre for Birds of Prey in Gloucestershire, England. Some sixty species live in this British domain, with dozens used in falconry demonstrations that happen on the so-called Hawk Walk. Talk about a jolly good show.

And, if your travels take you down under, don’t miss the Wellington Zoo, the first to be designated in New Zealand. About five-hundred animals and one-hundred species, with many being endangered as well as native to this part of the world, live in this 32-acre wild kingdom. While at this caring habitat, be sure to visit the miniature Sun Bear called

Sean, a national treasure and the smallest of his species.

Sean was found outside a store in 1996 and is now happily thriving in the Wellington Zoo. Not only that, but this sweet creature is being kept healthy and strong, even though last year that meant that this tiny critter had to undergo a rather painful root canal. Poor baby!

With Sean in mind, perhaps bigger bears are also your fancy. If so, then be sure to check out Norway’s Polar Zoo. This 114-acre habitat is the northernmost zoo in the world and boasts the largest animal per area ratio. Of particular interest as far as activities are concerned at this outpost in the frozen tundra is that some of the most awesome animals in the pack have been socialized. Because of this, visitors are invited to get up-close-and-personal with a number of the wolves and foxes that live there.


To push through the idea that natural preservation is all important, even in the t wilderness where the iPad hasn’t been introduced to these snow bound predators of the Arctic-or, at least, not yet. Yet it does make you wonder if this is next.

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