It’s official. The rumors have been swirling for about a year now. Tuesday the Indianapolis Zoo made the announcement that they are getting a new International Orangutan Center.
Michael Crowther, President and CEO of the Indianapolis Zoo says it’s a big project, “This is 150 feet tall. It's going to change the Indianapolis skyline.”
Groundbreaking starts in a few months. The exhibit will open Memorial Day weekend 2014. Crowther says it will be different that the traditional zoo exhibit, “They won't just see apes laying around sleeping.”
The International Orangutan Center will be about the actual animals. It will allow people to see how orangutans like to live. The center will come complete with your standard viewing area, but the orangutans will also have a Beacon of Hope, lights the apes can turn on themselves. Visitors can take an air tram ride along the trail of trees and come almost face to face with the orangutans.
Crowther says it will allow them to behave the same way that they behave in the wild, “When you design something for the animals it can give people an unforgettable experience.”
Dr. Rob Shumaker the Vice President of Life Sciences at the Indianapolis Zoo says it’s a groundbreaking move, “I believe this is going to set a new standard for orangutans in zoos. I think it will be the best facility for orangutans people will find anywhere.”
The goal is to make people fall in love with the intelligent, inquisitive, human-like apes. The orangutan population has decreased by 92% in the last decade. The International Orangutan Center hopes to teach people about the apes and encourage them to support saving these mammals. Dr. Shumaker says, “I think that's going to create a lot of passion for people and really create an urgency for people to support conservation.”
Learn more about the International Orangutan Center here.