Zookeepers said the facility is the first in Texas to participate in the "Apps for Apes" program, which was developed by New York primate advocacy group Orangutan Outreach and pioneered at zoos in Wisconsin and Toronto. The program helps to stimulate the primates mentally in the absence of wild conditions, the Houston Chronicle reported Thursday.
"Chimps and orangutans and other apes are very intelligent," chimp keeper Helen Boostrom said. "In the wild, the problems they must solve are finding food and shelter. They don't have to do that at the zoo. This is enrichment. It helps them use their minds."
Zoo spokesman Brian Hill said zookeepers have noticed similar reactions in apes and human children when they solve the puzzles on the iPad apps.
"You see the same reaction on their faces when they solve a problem and get something right," he said.