In an experiment called “Tinder for Orangutans”, the Dutch zoo, Apenheul, in Apeldoorn, will allow female orangutan pick her mate by browsing through option on a tablet. The experiment will be conducted as part of an international breeding program of apes. The objective of the experiment would be to gain a better insight into the mating choices of primates. It is also intended to increase the breeding chances of orangutans.
‘Tinder For Orangutans’: Concept And Importance
Animal relationships, just like humans, are bred out of mutual attraction for one another. And that is not always the easiest thing to achieve on the first meeting. Sometimes, the male orangutans can be transported from zoos as far away as Singapore. In these circumstances, it is important that the process of breeding go smoothly before they have to be sent back to their habitat.
“Often, animals have to be taken back to the zoo they came from without mating,” The Washington Post quoted Thomas Bionda as saying. He is a behavioral biologist at the zoo. “Things don’t always go well when a male and a female first meet,” he added. Hence, developing an interest in the opposite sex, prior to the encounter often helps improve the chances of breeding.
This unique program also attempts to study the role of emotions in primal mating. Apparently, the right emotion becomes the key to surviving in the wild for primate couples. The test was previously conducted with bonobos, a species of apes, as close to humans as primates get. It was observed then that the bonobos tend to pick photos in which other bonobos demonstrated actions such as mating or grooming. The reasons behind this was because these actions represent what is known as “positive stimuli” in the animal world.
‘Tinder For Orangutans’: Problems in the process
The main obstacle that the biologists face at the moment is constructing a tablet that is durable enough. They had initially tried enforcing the tablet with a steel frame. This worked fine for a while with other orangutans. However, as soon as the tablet was handled by the target female orangutan, Samboja, her temper got the better of the device.
Hence, the experiment is presently on hold until a stronger tablet can be manufactured. Once that problem is out of the way, the scientists can conduct the experiment. They can prove whether looks alone can spark chemistry between primates. It is believed that the sense of smell is equally important as looks while mating for the primates. The experiment can either confirm or refute that belief, reported The Guardian.