Orangutans Move In at the Indianapolis Zoo

Debuting this spring, a new, $26 million exhibition allows visitors unparalleled interaction with eight magnificent great apes

Find the latest, greatest and hairiest addition to White River State Park at the Indianapolis Zoo. A new, state-of-the-art exhibition features eight orangutans in a space that affords them tremendous freedom, while allowing visitors maximum viewing and interaction.

Twice the size of the football field at the Colts’ nearby Lucas Oil Stadium, the International Orangutan Center at the Indianapolis Zoo allows its eight residents to roam and play. Opening May 24, the center has been designed to meet the physical, social and intellectual needs of the simians, allowing them to swing on hoses, climb ladders, frolic on multilevel perches, clamber to the top of the center’s atrium, and amble outdoors in a network of platforms and bridges. Zoo guests can get up close to Azy, Charly, Knobi, Nicky, Lucy, Katy, Basan and Rocky in a variety of ways: There are glass dividers where human and ape can press nose-to-nose, and also a 1,200-foot-long aerial cable ride, the Skyline, allowing visitors an eyelevel vantage point.

“The International Orangutan Center has a number of ‘design firsts’ when it comes to orangutan exhibits in North America,” says Paul Grayson, Deputy Director and Senior Vice President of Conservation and Science. “The most noticeable is the height of areas that animals can explore, with indoor spaces rising to 50 feet and outdoor elements soaring to 80 feet. Other firsts include a vending machine with special ‘currency,’ and an interactive computer station.” But the center isn’t just about entertainment. Scientists study the the great apes, aged 10 to 36, on location. “Orangutans have sophisticated mental abilities,” says Dr. Rob Shumaker, Vice President of Conservation and Life Sciences. “At the center, the apes have the opportunity to engage in computer-based tasks on a daily basis that allow them to learn, solve problems and exercise their minds.”

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