Now that humans have turned to dating apps to find their soulmate, apes might be following in our footsteps. However, for them is not about enjoying dinner at a fancy restaurant, long walks in the park, or gazing at the stars. Scientists are analyzing orangutans’ response to a potential mate before going through the hassle of transporting them from one zoo to another in order to give birth to new life. As paying for such a trip could imply some substantial costs, with some specimens flying in the country from as far as Singapore, zookeepers at The Netherlands are trying to make females swipe right on a potential mate based on its looks.
The experiment is conducted on a small scale for now, with only one orangutan female struggling to first understand the concept of a dating app and then choose her mate. Samboja, the female orangutan, has been interacting with a dating app on a tablet under close supervision for some time now. The general idea does not steer away from what humans are already used to see in a dating app. Photos of multiple suitors pop up on a tablet’s screen and Samboja has to pick one of them based on its appearance. The zookeepers say this will increase the chances of breeding in real life, rather than fly a male from Singapore only to be rejected.
According to Stephen Bionda, behavioral biologist, a number of things can go wrong the first time male and female orangutans meet. In the unfortunate event of a mismatch, the male gets sent back to the zoo where he came from. Unfortunately, this comes at a great price in shipping costs.
Researchers hope the long-term experiment, dubbed “Tinder for orangutans” will lower such costs and help behavioral biologists better understand how females chose their mates. One major setback the team of researchers is currently struggling with, however, is the device itself. For the experiment to work, the researchers will need to come up with stronger displays. The first prototype was tested not long ago. It was a device reinforced with a steel frame. However, after only two weeks, Samboja destroyed it.
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