Addition of a touch screen to exhibit allows visitors to learn about cognitive abilities of orangutans
Atlanta, GA – April 11, 2007 – Zoo Atlanta representatives joined by representatives of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, IBM, and Touch International announced today the opening a new experience at Zoo Atlanta which will allow visitors to learn more about the cognitive abilities of orangutans.
The Orangutan Learning Tree will include daily demonstrations by the orangutans through their interactions with a game kiosk. During these demonstrations, orangutans will be provided the opportunity to play a varied selection of games to provide scientists with the opportunity to collect on data on their cognitive abilities. Successful completion of the exercise will provide the orangutan with a treat to reward their behavior and participation. Visitors will be able to witness this demonstration on a screen from the front of the habitat.
“Science has long wondered how intelligent the apes might be and this is only one part of the research we are doing here at Zoo Atlanta to add to that body of knowledge,” said Dennis Kelly, Zoo Atlanta president and CEO. “These efforts are one more tool that we can use to support conservation efforts of these species in the wild.”
The addition of this multimedia experience and its research capabilities were made possible through the resources and contributions of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience (CBN), the IBM Corporation and an anonymous donor. The funding by an anonymous donor along with funding from CBN’s Venture Grant program provided the resources necessary to create touch-screen computers for the exhibit that would withstand the elements and their regular use by the orangutans.
“The partnership between scientists at the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience and Zoo Atlanta allows us to study the behavior of these animals in new ways while bringing the excitement of research to the public,” said Dr. Elliott Albers, CBN Director.
The monitors being used in the Orangutan Learning Tree are produced by Touch International and this is the first time that their monitors have been used by animals.
“This is an amazing opportunity,” says Michael Woolstrum, CEO Touch International. “We feel very fortunate having the chance to help the community. This exhibit truly demonstrates that touch is the universal language.”
Following today’s formal opening of the experience and to highlight the importance of cognitive research, the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience will be hosting “The Brains Rule!” exposition at Zoo Atlanta on Saturday, April 14, from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. The exposition is a fun, interactive program for all ages that features a 40-foot neuron and more than 30 interactive hands-on education stations exploring various topics related to the brain and behavior.
About Zoo Atlanta
An accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Zoo Atlanta inspires public value and protection of wildlife by providing an educational, engaging family experience, committing to critical conservation projects and applying world-class dedication to the stewardship of animals living in naturalistic habitats. One of only four zoos in the U.S. exhibiting giant pandas, Zoo Atlanta recently welcomed the birth of its first cub, Mei Lan. Other highlights include a preeminent great ape collection, featuring a rare set of mother-reared gorilla twins, a world-renowned herpetology department, and Wild Like Me, an innovative play space sponsored by Turner Broadcasting Systems, Inc. Zoo Atlanta is open daily with the exceptions of Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. For more information, call 404.624.WILD or visitwww.zooatlanta.org.
The Center for Behavioral Neuroscience (CBN) is a consortium of seven metro Atlanta colleges and universities including: Georgia State University, Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Spelman College. More than 150 neuroscientists, including graduate students and postdocs, participate in the research program and share the goal of working to understand the neurobiology of social behavior. The CBN also directs a comprehensive education program designed to educate the next generation of scientists. For more information on CBN, please visit www.cbn-atl.org.
About Touch International
Touch International, headquartered in Austin, Texas, was founded in 2002 by Michael Woolstrum and long-time veteran, Gary Barrett, the company’s CTO. TI has become a world leader in touchscreen, EMI filter, and enhanced display technology. The company operates its engineering and design facility and corporate headquarters in Austin, Texas as well as a high volume production facility is located in Shenzhen, China.