Georgia State University’s Center for Behavioral Neuroscience (CBN) recently partnered with Zoo Atlanta to go forth with cognitive research, especially with the zoo’s great apes. The partnership has already proved to be a symbiotic relationship; not only has the CBN gained valuable research, but the Center also assisted in the birth of the giant panda cub, Mei Lan.
Though the beginnings of this collaboration were as early as late 2003, the Center has worked with the zoo to develop the Orangutan Learning Tree, which officially opened in April 2007. Other projects include gorilla cognition and tool-use and the Zoo Atlanta’s giant panda breeding program.
The biggest project, the Orangutan Learning Tree, is an exhibit at Zoo Atlanta where orangutans have access to a large touch-screen computer where they can perform certain cognitive tasks while the visitors outside observe. The visitors also have a computer screen in the viewing area where they can compare their cognitive abilities to those of the apes.
This exhibit, funded by GSU’s CBN, IBM and one anonymous donor, allows CBN and Zoo Atlanta researchers to learn about the cognitive processes of the great orange apes.
The collaboration continues between the two research entities as they focus on conservation efforts and educating the public on the importance of understanding cognitive ape behavior.