As people who have followed this blog for a long time probably know, I love all things ape. Monkeys are cute, too, but watching Chimps, and Baboons, and Gorillas, and Orangutans absolutely blows my mind. We are not the only intelligent species on this planet.
I even consider that evidence of the likelihood that intelligent life has evolved on other planets: it has happened more than once here, so it’s not that unique of a thing.
When I saw this video two days ago, I did not realize it was two years old so there’s actually a possibility I have posted this before but, if so, I don’t remember and it doesn’t matter anyway because watching it the other day I was struck with a specific insight.
The video is cute, just 2 1/2 minutes long. An orangutan in a zoo reaches through the bars and grabs a man by his T shirt. The man is a bit freaked out but eventually gets out of the ape’s fearsome grip by giving up on the shirt. He doesn’t seem too happy at first but his girlfriend thinks it’s hysterical, so I’m sure he got over it.
But, I’m mostly impressed with what happens after that. The orangutan puts on the T shirt.
This might not sound like a great accomplishment, but are you a parent? How long does it take to teach a toddler to put on a T shirt? This is not such an automatic thing. Bear in mind that, although the orangutan has often seen people wearing T shirts but there is a good chance he has never actually seen somebody putting one on. (although maybe he had, I don’t know)
Anyway, the Orangutan figured it out in about a minute, maybe less. I wonder if he thought that would give him some credit with the humans. “Hey, I’m wearing clothes now! Does that mean you’ll let me out of here?”
Anyway, the whole incident showed me not only that Orangutans are smart, but that they want to be smarter. How long will it be until they are at our level?