Creature Gear — 6 Pieces of Technology We Should Give to Zoo Animals

If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time reading stories about apes doing funny human-like things, and thus have been following this story about the orangutans at the Milwaukee zoo being given an iPad to play with. If for some strange reason you’re not like me, well, the Milwaukee zoo has given their orangutans an iPad and they’ve actually found quite a few apps the apes enjoy. There are currently plans to provide iPads to orangutans all around North America.

This got me thinking — could other zoo animals benefit from getting more tech-savvy? Here’s some animal/gizmo pairings I think would work out…


Dolphins and iPods

So, we know dolphins have this complex language made up of melodic clicks and chirps. All that chatter must get tiring after a while, particularly when there’s only one or two other dolphins in your tank and all they ever do is talk about fish and crack jokes about blowhole sex.

With an iPod though, zookeepers could give dolphins recordings of other dolphins for variety. Or you know, if Flipper just really wants some silence for once he can pop in the earbuds and be all “chirp, click, sorry dude, click click, listening to a podcast, how ’bout I chirp at you later?”

It’s mostly Kei$ha on there — dolphins don’t have great taste.

Elephants and Roombas

One thing always bothers me about the elephants at the zoo — in nature documentaries elephants always have a flock of little birds eating the crap off their backs, but you don’t see any crap eating birds on the elephants at the zoo. Poor things must feel all unclean without their daily small-bird spa treatment.

I say we get the elephants Roombas — just attach them to the elephants’ backs and let them do their thing. It’ll be a beautiful elephant-robot symbiotic relationship.

Pandas and Blu-Ray Players

So, in order to convince pandas to make new pandas, zookeepers often show them, uh, “panda porn” to get them in the mood. No, seriously, they do. It still doesn’t work a lot of the time, because pandas are silly living teddy bears. It’s kind of hard to get hot and bothered when you’re looking at a panda bear, even if you’re another panda bear.

Maybe it’s just a problem of resolution though. I say get them a 50-inch HDTV and a Blu-ray player to watch their panda porn with. All the shiny new technology might give a lot of dude pandas a boner on its own.

Too cute to survive.

Hippos and Wii Fit

A lot of people say hippos are meant to be big. That’s just the way they were born and they’re beautiful as is. I don’t buy it. Hippos just need a healthy dose of reality — once they get on that balance board they’ll be appropriately shamed. Look for a new generation of sleek, Victoria Beckham-esque hippos at your zoo soon.


Sloths and Segways

People think sloths are lazy, but it’s not true — they have plans and aspirations, they’re just betrayed by their own bodies. Sloths are designed for tree climbing — they don’t do particularly well on land, and so they just sit up in the trees, depressed, thinking about what life could be if they had the ability to move around on land more freely.

Enter the Segway — suddenly sloths will really be living up to their potential. Just making their way around their cage wearing fedoras and getting s–t done.

As a bonus I’m pretty sure Kristen Bell would totally do the first person that teaches a sloth to ride a Segway.

She’ll probably cry all the way through it though.

Bonobos and Xbox 360s with Call of Duty

This one’s actually kind of serf serving — I just figure they’d raise the level of civility of your typical online Call of Duty session. I mean, there’d be a little more poop throwing, but probably a lot less homophobia.

What about you guys? What kind of tech do you think zoos should give their animals? Oh, and thanks for sticking it out to the end of this very, very silly article.

Orangutans with an iPad pic via Macleans

Panda pic via Shutterstock