Abang (orangutan)

Abang is an Orangutan taught to make stone tools, as a part of a research experiment to determine if this ability is a characteristic unique to humans, the genus Homo, or to the family Hominidae. Early Life Abang was illegally captured in Sarawak when about 1 year old. After being confiscated by authorities, he was taken with a female, Dayang, to England in 1967 to the Bristol Zoo. :298 [edit]Experiment [edit]Aim and Setup The aim of the experiment was to teach an ape subject, through imitative learning, to use a stone to hammer a flake from a flint and use this flake as a tool to open a box. The experiment was divided into two stages where the subject was given demonstrations and then given the opportunity to do the activity him/herself. Stage-I's aim was tool-use, to get an ape to cut a cord to open a box, using a pre-made flake. Stage-II's aim was tool-making, to get an ape to make his/her own flakes and open the box with them. The demonstration and attempts were done with a sheet aluminum box. A mesh window made the food visible. The box had a lid secured by a cord inside the box, with the cord accessible via a slot. :298 [edit]Timeline The experiment started in 1971. The experimental sessions were conducted in an indoor part of the ape’s cage, initially with both Abang and Dayang present. They proved to be a distraction to each other, thereafter only Abang was then used as a subject. Stage-I was conducted in 4 sessions from March 5th to March 19th with success starting at

the end of the 2nd session. Stage-II was conducted in 7 sessions from March 23rd to April 16th with success starting in the 6th session. :299-304 [edit]Conclusion In the opinion of the researcher, while the experiment showed, “… a case of imitative learning it would be misleading to think of Abang’s behavior solely as parrot-fashion learning. … apes possess random exploratory activity and innovations which can lead to new successes. Surprise surprise … humans are not the only intelligent race inhabiting this planet, regardless of how we may like to define the term intelligence as such. Do orangutans possess intelligence as well by any chance? Intelligence as we understand it, is predominantly a social attribute. In other words, it is developed at its most among the species whose representatives initiate some sort of social interactions between themselves and learn life skills from each other and along each other. Even though these rainforest animals are semi-solitary, they do develop different forms of social contact at different stages of their lives, which may help them find better solutions to the challenges they encounter. Indeed, during the last several centuries orangutans had amazed the international scientific community with their impressive, human-like mental abilities allowing them to adapt to their environment, learn new life skills, plan their actions ahead and solve other everyday problems. Let us look at specific mental abilities attributed to orangutans.