Usually having an endangered animal in a Tinder profile is enough to swipe left, but this is exactly what one new user is looking for. It seems that even our primate cousins are no longer able to escape the world of modern dating, as one early simian adopter – a female orangutan at a Dutch zoo – is now using “Tinder for orangutans” to find herself the perfect match.
The project is part of a four-year experiment being carried out at the Apenheul primate park in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands, which aims to see if researchers can figure out what a female orangutan looks for in a mate. They plan on showing the 11-year-old ape Samboja various images of male orangutans currently listed on the international breeding program on touchscreens to see if any tempt her to swipe right.
Matching endangered species held in captivity is notoriously difficult. Many live in opposite corners of the world and so there is always a great risk, and massive cost, to ship the animals from one institution to the other in the hopes that they will get it on. When things go awry, however, the unsuccessful duo usually have to be separated and go their separate ways, wasting time and money.
If researchers can figure out what exactly it is that the females look for in a partner, then they can hopefully improve on the success of matching the apes, and potentially increase the number born in captivity to boost the species' survival.
There are, however, a few technical issues to get around first, apart from the obvious. The first tests with Samboja resulted in a smashed screen, meaning the researchers have to develop a tablet strong enough to resist her curiosities. Once they’ve cracked that one, the team at the primate park will monitor her choices and examine whether or not looks alone are enough to temp her to take the leap from the virtual world into the real one.