Bornean orangutan Bella and her parents Kumang and Denda have just been enrolled in an enriching research program where their decision-making and mathematical skills will be scientifically assessed on exhibit for Zoo guests to observe.
The University of Rochester Cognitive Sciences research lab of Dr Jessica Cantlon will be expanding its ongoing research with our olive baboon troop to include 36-year-old Kumang, 12-year-old Denda and 2-year-old Bella. Earlier this week, Denda demonstrated impressive finger and tongue dexterity skills in his first trial, starting with games and treats. The tasks will become more engaging and technical over time, advancing to double sided touch screens where Zoo guests will be able to watch the orangutans demonstrate cognitive skills.
“Bella is curious and playful,” says zoo keeper Mike Wemett. “As a zoo keeper, I have the privilege of watching her grow up and learn from her mother, and this research will track some of that development.”
Engaging science to better understand orangutan intelligence will help us advance novel approaches to designing new programs and exhibits that are stimulating and enriching.
—Dr. Jeff Wyatt, Director of Animal Health and Conservation