For Release: August 26, 2010
Enica R. Thompson (202) 633-3083
Jen Zoon (202) 633-3055
Visitors to the Think Tank exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo will see new interactive activities relating to orangutans—an ape may spray them with water at the Orangutan Mister or play tug-of-war with them at the Orangutan Pull. These new interactive enhancements give the orangutans an opportunity to make choices and demonstrate their ability to think. These features are part of a renewal project to increase visitor and orangutan encounters in the award-winning exhibition on animal cognition. There are also daily demonstrations and a new video about the Zoo’s orangutan memory research project. When the renewal project is complete in April 2011, Think Tank will include an orangutan-controlled webcam, a memory test for visitors, an interactive termite “fishing” mound and a brown-rat exhibit.
“The new enhancements at Think Tank will provide our visitors with a dynamic interactive and educational exhibit to explore and enjoy,” said Lisa Stevens, curator of primates and pandas at the National Zoo. “My hope is that our visitors, young and old, will walk away educated about a fascinating topic—animal thinking.”
Components of the Think Tank renewal project include:
The enhancements to Think Tank were made possible by a generous donation from the Hattie M. Strong Foundation in honor of Hank Strong. In recognition of this generosity, the classroom and other enhancement areas will be named “The Hank Strong Enrichment Center.”
Think Tank, the place to think about thinking, opened in 1995 as a 15,000-square-foot permanent exhibition that combines the appeal of orangutans, macaques and other charismatic species with an interactive exploration of the question: “What is thinking?” Visitors are introduced to the concept of animal thinking by exploring three factors necessary to establish the existence of thought: image, intention and flexibility. As a concept-based exhibit, Think Tank was designed to showcase a prominent and vibrant research program. At Think Tank, staff and interpretive volunteers perform daily demonstrations and lead discussions on research in cognitive science, highlighting current and ongoing National Zoo studies at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. At the Great Ape House, visitors can meet a great ape keeper to learn about the fascinating world of apes at 11:30 a.m. daily. Visitors can also see the orangutans traveling on the O-Line on warm-weather days from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
# # #