Orangutans are now trying their hand at swiping right. A Dutch zoo has developed "Tinder for orangutans," a four-year experiment in which a female orangutan at the zoo will be tasked with choosing a mate based off of options presented on a touchscreen. The 11-year-old orangutan named Samboja will be shown photos of male orangutans from a breeding program on a tablet, and researchers will wait to see which lucky fellow she chooses from the array of options.
The experiment isn't all about helping orangutans find love; the zoo also wants to avoid the hassle that comes with an unsuccessful mating match. "Often animals have to be taken back to the zoo they came from without mating," said Thomas Bionda, a behavioral biologist at the Dutch zoo. "Things don't always go well when a male and female first meet."
Researchers aren't totally sure "Tinder for orangutans" will work. So far, all they know is that other primates, including bonobos and chimpanzees, have seemed interested when presented with pictures of other primates "mating or grooming one another," The Guardian reported. There's also been the problem of finding a tablet that orangutans can't ruin. A tablet framed in steel at first seemed to be working out, but then Samboja's mom, who the zoo calls "Demolition Woman," got ahold of it.
Moreover, while pictures have seemed to be enough for humans to successfully hit it off, scientists aren't sure if orangutans will find that to be sufficient information. "Usually, smell plays an important role too," Bionda said. "But with orangutans, it will be what you see is what you get."