Use of Interactive Technology in Captive Great Ape Management

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Caitlin A Ford, Liz Bellward, Clive JC Phillips, Kris Descovich
Journal of Zoological and Botanical Gardens
, , , ,

The conservation status of great apes (chimpanzees Pan troglodytes, gorillas Gorilla sp., orangutans Pongo sp., and bonobos Pan paniscus) is grave and zoological institutions are vital for maintaining numbers of these species and educating the public about their importance. Technology provides tools that can assist zoos in meeting these objectives. However, the extant research on technology use in zoos is potentially constrained by small sample sizes and there is no framework detailing the methodologies necessary for the successful incorporation of technology into great ape management. Therefore, this study aimed to determine current technology use in the management of captive great apes and whether technology-directed behaviour differs between ape genera. Primary carers of great apes in zoos were surveyed using a 43-question, online questionnaire. The purpose of integrating interactive technology into captive ape management was primarily for enrichment (53% of respondents), followed by research (20% of respondents). However, only 25% of respondents had apes directly engaged with technology. There were no differences in technology-directed behaviours between ape genera. By identifying differences in practice, this research marks the initial stage in developing a best practice framework for using technology.


Back to Resources