Sure, we humans are regular failures versus UFO catchers, but what about our primate cousins?

Crane games/UFO catchers are pretty easy to find in Japan. Pretty much every single arcade in the country puts the mechanical claw machines right by their entrance, where they entice both casual and hardcore gamers to try their hand at winning their cool and quirky prizes.

But recently a crane game showed up in a very unexpected place in Japan: inside the monkey habitat at Nagasaki Bio Park.

This was part of a two-day experiment set up by Nagasaki Bio Park and arcade operator Wide Leisure to answer the question of whether or not monkeys can understand, and win at, crane games. Obviously, this required a few monkey-specific modifications to the machine, such as adequately padding the frame so that the animals wouldn’t hurt themselves while climbing around the frame. Ordinary crane games are activated by 100-yen coins, but monkeys generally don’t carry change around with them, so their machine would simply start when someone manipulates the controls, with no monetary transactions required. Also, while a Sanrio plushie or One Piece figure might look like a great prize to a human crane game player, this machine was stocked with something more appealing to monkeys: a whole bunch of raisins.

The monkeys in the experiment are tufted capuchins, which are an especially intelligent species often used for movie work. Still, the Bio Park staff wasn’t sure if their monkeys would be able to win those delicious raisins. On December 1, the first day of the test, the animals seemed to be having trouble grasping the core concepts of the machine.

The Bio Park staff first tried showing the monkeys a video, on a tablet, of someone playing a crane game and winning a prize, but even after this let’s play-style lesson the monkeys had trouble seeing how that related to their enclosure’s machine. Eventually, a staff member demonstrated on the monkey’s machine itself, pointing out where the raisins could be retrieved after they were won, but Day 1 finished without any of the monkeys able to replicate the entire process on their own.

But then on Day 2, a male named Daiju put two and two together, and managed to procure some tasty treats all on his own!

▼ The moment of triumph

Not only that, Daiju was able to repeat the process multiple times, demonstrating that he’d formed a solid mental connection between manipulating the control stick, the claw moving, and the raisins falling into the prize retrieval slot.

▼ A longer video of the experiment’s highlights

Daiju is five years old, which converts to an age of about 15 in human years, lining up with the age when a lot of human fans really hone their crane game skills. The Bio Park staff says Daiju is a little rambunctious, but also shows an independent streak and a lot of curiosity about new things, again much like a human teen.

No word has been given as to whether Nagasaki Bio Park’s capybaras now want a crane game of their own, or whether they’re content with their Halloween parties.

Source: FNN Prime Online via Livedoor News via Hachima Kikou
Top image: YouTube/楽市楽座
Insert images: YouTube/楽市楽座 (1, 2)
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