The Think Tank Exhibit at the National Zoo is all about animal thinking and has three main building themes, society, language and tool use. In this building we also have daily research demonstrations featuring some of the current cognition studies being conducted with the zoo’s orangutans and gorillas. Current research programs include metacognition, tool use and planning, memory and theory of mind studies.
At the Think Tank exhibit at the National Zoo, the orangutans have a mister system as part of their outdoor enclosure. In the corner of their enclosure they have two buttons. One button they press and they can spray themselves with a mist of water. When they press the other button, they spray the visitors outside of their enclosure with water when they stand in the “wet zone”. Anyone that works with orangutans can probably guess which button the orangutans prefer pushing!
At the Think Tank exhibit at the National Zoo, the orangutans have a tug o’ war pulley system as part of their indoor enclosure. Orangutans can choose to interact with the public and play a game of tug o’ war. We have been holding this event at the National Zoo for several years now. Staff and volunteers make hundreds of handmade tissue paper flowers that contain a conservation message tag stating how human mothers can help orangutan mothers in the wild by reducing or eliminating palm oil in their grocery items