Orangutan Canopy Ground Breaking at KC Zoo

Orangutan Canopy Ground Breaking at KC Zoo

KCZoo Orangutan Canopy ImageConstruction of Kansas City Zoo’s new Orangutan Canopy is underway as the official ground breaking took place on Wednesday, August 27.

Designed to highlight the fascinating aspects of orangutans, the 3,400 square foot outdoor habitat will challenge their dexterity and intelligence. From the forest floor to the treetops, there will be motivational tools to encourage instinctual behaviors. A grove of artificial and flexible yet extremely strong trees, poles and vines will provide climbing, exploring and resting areas above the naturally planted contoured forest floor. Guests will view the orangutans from several vantage points including a canopy level open-air shelter with a 40’ long viewing window. Nearby, a special access door will allow Zoo Keepers to conduct live demonstrations and training exercises delighting the senses of all ages.

The indoor renovated orangutan room is being transformed into an “Orangutan University.” Brightly painted walls, new skylights and colorful climbing structures create a fitness studio for orangutans and a learning lab for them and our guests. Interactions between orangutans and guests via computer monitors make comparisons and offer understandings of the close cognitive and physical traits humans share with these apes.

Making the transition between the canopy and “Orangutan University” is a hillside trail boasting climbing structures, orangutan exercises and educational conservation messages. Education concerning the largest tree-living mammals in the world is important. In 2014, the Orangutan Conservancy believes orangutans lost over 80% of their habitat in the last 20 years with only about 40,000 orangutans remaining in Borneo and Sumatra. That’s 20,000 less than 10 years ago.

The Zoological District along with many donors helped make Orangutan Canopy possible. A special thank you to the foundations of: the Hall Family, Sunderland, Sosland, Dixon Family and the Cohen Family, for their APE-mazing support of Orangutan Canopy and their continued fondness of the Kansas City Zoo.
Designed with the great, wise orangutan in mind, careful thought and precise measurements were considered to let their immense physical, social and intellectual abilities run “wild.” Orangutan Canopy is scheduled to open to the public in the summer of 2015.