Meeting someone via a matchmaking set-up can be awkward for humans, let alone apes.
But a Dutch zoo is hoping a project dubbed “Tinder for Orangutans” could help find more suitable partners for their females by allowing them to choose potential mates before being introduced.
Researchers at the Apenheul Primate Park in the Netherlands will use a tablet to show their orangutans photos of possible partners from an international breeding program, and look at their responses to see whether they give more attention to certain images or photos.
“[Wouldn’t it] be nice if before moving a monkey, it could be seen whether [it] has a preference for a particular partner?” principal investigator Mariska Kret wrote in a blog post about the research.
The aim of the research is to learn more about how female orangutans make mating choices, and to eventually develop a method to increase the success of international breeding programs.
Earlier research with bonobos showed they paid particular attention to “positive” photos of other bonobos mating or grooming each other, researcher Evy van Berlo told local newspaper Tubantia.
The Emotions in Apes project is a collaboration between evolutionary psychology researchers from Leiden University, the Apenheul Primate Park, and behavioural biologist Thomas Bionda.
The Tinder-like project has hit a roadblock though – after showing the device to female orangutan Samboja, who initially successfully pressed the touchscreen, she tried pulling on the protective frame around the tablet before punching and smashing the device.
Researchers are looking for an orangutan-proof touchscreen before continuing with the investigation.