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iPad-Loving Orangutan Back Online After Surgery

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A tech-savvy orangutan is thriving after having life-saving surgery to remove an intestinal obstruction which the operating veterinarian believes would have killed her. Peanut and her pals at Miami’s jungle island originally made headlines because they are Apple enthusiasts -- and loooove their iPads.

Over the past year, Peanut has been drawing and painting on the popular device. She's also fond of an app called "Tap to Talk," which shows a group of symbols like bananas or peanuts -- and then prompts her to pick the right one. ("Can you touch the peanuts? The peanuts. Good girl!")

Patti Ragan, founder of the center, noted that orangutans may actually be smarter than chimpanzees -- but are less recognized, in part because there are only about 53,000 left in the world. Ragan warned, "Habitat destruction is leading to the deaths of probably two to three thousand orangutans in the wild a year right now."

And iPads aren't the only gadgets these primates are mastering. They're also Skyping -- with each other! A zoo in Milwaukee and one in Toronto recently introduced the mammals to one another online. "They're really interested to see each other in real time and they can recognize it's not just a recording, that it actually is real time."

Orangutan Surgery Isn't Common

Months after Peanut became a household name, Jungle Island’s Animal Curator, Dr. Jason Chatfield, noticed that she was being lethargic and wasn’t eating. He noticed increased intestinal sounds and referred her to Miami Veterinary Specialists where surgeons, Dr. Alvaro Larin, DVM, ACVS and Dr. Marc Wosar, DVM, ACVS, ran a series of tests on her including CT Scans and X-rays and confirmed that she had an intestinal obstruction that could only be treated with surgery.

The team at MVS was worried for her recovery because this type of surgery isn’t normally performed on orangutans. Peanut couldn’t be kept on IV after the operation and had to be fed orally, which is not common practice on dogs, cats -- or even humans! Normally, patients do not get fed for 24-48 hours after surgery.

Thankfully Peanut is recovering well and currently doing great -- and back on her iPad. Dr. Larin says that if she had not had the surgery, there is no doubt that she wouldn’t have made it.
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