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Indianapolis Zoo To Construct International Orangutan Center

Giraffes feed out of the hand of a visitor at the Indianapolis Zoo. The zoo plans to expand its facilities with an orangutan exhibit.

The Indianapolis Zoo is launching a major campaign to fund what it calls a “groundbreaking exhibit.” The zoo Tuesday announced plans for the International Orangutan Center.

Indianapolis zoo deputy director Paul Grayson says it is part of an effort to further solidify the zoo‘s position as one of the world‘s leaders in animal conservation.

“The International Orangutan Center is designed to bring people’s awareness to the plight of orangutans but more importantly to make them fall in love with these animals,” he says.

The orangutan exhibit will be built in the center of the zoo’s 64-acre property, with construction to begin in the summer.

Grayson says the most impressive part of the center will be the vertical space. Plans call for one large indoor all-season facility called the atrium that has a ceiling 90 feet off the ground. The space between ground and ceiling will be filled with a jungle-gym forest of platforms and bars on which orangutans can climb and move.

Another feature called the Hutan Trail includes a highway of cables and bridges that the primates use to leave the atrium and move to other parts of the exhibit. The cables will connect them to platforms above the zoo, or they can choose to retreat to climate-controlled private spaces for private time.

The $30 million goal of the campaign will help cover the cost of the exhibit and fund the educational and research components of the center. Once opened by 2014, the exhibit will be home to eight endangered orangutans. The purpose of the exhibit is also to spur interest in saving the species from extinction, while fueling the local economy. Zoo officials expect “millions” of people to visit the center.

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