Zoo apes move into new digs - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Zoo apes move into new digs

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Knobi eats lettuce next to the glass. Knobi eats lettuce next to the glass.
Rocky greets the media. Rocky greets the media.
Construction continues on the outside portion of the orangutan exhibit. Construction continues on the outside portion of the orangutan exhibit.
INDIANAPOLIS -

One of the most talked about new zoo exhibits in the world opens at the Indianapolis Zoo in two months.

But most of its residents have already moved into the International Orangutan Center, at least the inside space.

The center is now home to eight orangutans, with a ninth on the way.

The new exhibit mimics the apes natural environment. It was designed to meet their physical, social and intellectual needs.

It's larger that two football fields and includes a 50-foot high indoor living space.

Outside, the orangutans will have a network of platforms, cables and bridges.

Dr Robert Shumaker, Vice President of Conservation and Life Sciences at the zoo said the design also changes the way people are able to interact with the apes. Zoogoers will be separated by just an inch of glass, letting people and the orangutans get face-to-face.

Shumaker calls it "a life-changing experience" especially for children "who come here and look Rocky in the eye and see him looking back. It gives us great hope for the future."

Orangutans are an endangered species and much of the exhibit, which opens May 24, will focus on education and conservation.

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