What do these penguins and cats have in common?A fascination for this computer game!
“I had actually purchased this game in the app store for my cats.”Sara Mandel, a birdkeeper at the Aquarium of the Pacific, wanted to see if these penguins would like the game as much as her cats do.When she asked her boss,“He laughed at me.”But the result is no laughing matter, “they were pretty intrigued right away.”
This touch screen is good for pecking as well as spine,and serves as an enrichment exercise for the penguins’ brains and physical health.
“So while they’re kind of hanging out there, I can look at their flippers.I can make sure everything is good and healthy, and I can even sneak a scale right underneath where Lily’s standing.”
Penguins aren’t the only ones intrigued by the touch screens.Orangutans, gorillas and sun bears at Zoo Atlanta also seem to like this technology.
Even parrots and tortoises peck on the touch screen and seem to enjoy it.In this video, researchers look at the tortoise’s neck length to see how comfortable they are.As the University of Lincoln’s Anna Wilkinson tells VOA in a Skype interview, the long neck indicates comfort with the technology.
“They are nice and long doing this, which is good.Now everyone thought it would take a really long time to train the tortoises to use the touch screen,but I’ve used the same setup with dogs and the tortoises actually learned to use it much faster than the dogs did.”
Wilkinson also uses the touch screen on parrots to learn how they explore and approach something new.
“The touch screens are fantastic because they give you lots of flexibility, you can present animals with all sorts of different stimuli.They are also incredibly good because you can remove humans from the equation.”
Because humans can be distracting and not as reliable.
“We’re seeing how they can see in a visual way that we aren’t able to see before, we’re not so different from them.You know, we both like our touch screens too, but I do think in the future this could help kind of do some research on how these animals function.”
Touch screens also have the potential to allow animals to choose what they want to see or eat,giving scientists a deeper understanding of what animals are thinking.
Elizabeth Lee, VOA news, Long Beach, California.