Penguin plays with iPad at Long Beach aquarium

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Photo by Hugh Ryono, Aquarium of the Pacific

Life as a captive penguin in an aquarium just got a whole lot more interesting. Penguins at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California, are being entertained by the latest technology- iPads!

This is how the aquarium reports it on its website:

Take an old obsolete iPad. Load up a cat game app. Place in front of a couple of young curious penguins and you have the recipe for a fun time for these aquatic birds and a pretty neat video.

With the coming of spring a mature penguin’s thoughts turn to finding a mate. The pairing of birds has already started in the June Keyes Penguin Exhibit. But what of the young penguins like Newsom and Jeremy. Still too young to think about mating and with most of the other penguins busy trying to impress the opposite sex these young birds are feeling a bit left out of all the excitement.

As an enrichment for these youngsters aviculturalist Sara told me about her idea of using an iPad game made for cats as penguin entertainment. Just like cats penguins are very curious and the idea of these birds following a virtual mouse on a screen was just too appealing to me not to try out. Dusting off my old iPad 1 and loading Game for Cats app on it we set up a penguin video arcade in the exhibit last week.

Sure enough when Jeremy and Newsom noticed the iPad in the exhibit they both waddled on over. Jeremy was the first to try it out but Newsom was the one that really got into it. Stalking the virtual mouse intently he tried to pick it up repeatedly with his beak. Newsom especially seemed to like the squeak that the mouse made when he put his beak on the virtual critter. The mouse was self reinforcing for this penguin. Newsom set the penguin high score of 1600 for the game.

The video below shows just how much fun they had with the game. Listen for the mouse squeak when Newsom touches it with his beak.

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