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Human Beings and Apes Unite their Creativity
March 14, 2006 15:21

Human beings and apes get closer, when they create something together.

Painting has long ago become common in life of apes in captivity. It makes their life brighter. Scientists from Moscow Zoo and Moscow State University Faculty of Psychology developed an original method of teaching drawing to orangutans. This method is unique due to its "group", or to be more precise "pair" training technique. Apes are usually taught individually, and teachers have free access to the cage of an animal.

Orangutans, living in Moscow Zoo, were kept in pairs (mother and daughter, male and female monkeys), and teachers never entered the cage. Apes were given crayons and hard paper sheers for drawing. During the first stage the teacher showed apes how to draw with a crayon, and then passed the crayon to orangutans, who examined it first. Then teachers taught apes to give crayons and paper back. The monkey got a peace of walnut or a dried fruit every time it returned crayons and paper. But if it didn't draw anything, the reward was small, sunflower seeds, for example.

It is interesting to note that in both pairs only adult female orangutans were drawing. Adult male examined paper and crayons and found them not worth his attention, but he kept standing hear the door, while female orangutan was drawing. In mother-child pair adult female prevented her child from drawing, taking crayons and paper away from him. When little ape finally got the crayon, he scratched walls, bars and floor with it, but found it boring after 20-40 seconds of creativity.

However, all animals showed significant interest to drawing. They left anything and hurried to their teacher, when they saw him. Orangutans were friendly with their teacher even after their training was over. As for their drawing skills, they were still able to draw even four months after the training course.

The scientists, who performed this six-month experiment, concluded that drawing helps establishing good and positive relations with apes. These relations are based upon cooperation and can be used for "improving psychological climate" of orangutans' cage life. The technique is very simple and can be applied in any conditions animal are kept in.

Tags: Russian Scientists Moscow Zoo    

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