2018 Volume 68 Issue 2 Pages 105-119
Cognitive research in the United States spans approximately 100 years. Most studies have occurred in primate centers, fewer at universities, and for a brief period, in home-based projects focused on enculturation. Historically, great apes living in zoos have been under represented. A shift has occurred that affects the future of the field. Studies at primate centers have significantly decreased, all university based projects have ended, and work in zoos is increasing. The Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center at the Indianapolis Zoo provides an example of one stable, longitudinally based project. The primary areas of study at the Center are symbolic representation, numerical competency, social learning, memory, and strategic reasoning. All data collection sessions are conducted with visitors present. Cognitive studies in a zoo environment promote great ape welfare, offer a platform for transformational public education, and provide an effective means to advance support for in situ conservation of great apes.