Kansas City Zoo breaks ground on new orangutan habitat

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Zoo has broken ground on a new orangutan habitat, three times the size of its current one.

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-foot long viewing window.

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.

In 2014, the Orangutan Conservancy believes orangutans lost over 80 percent 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.

Orangutan Canopy is scheduled to open to the public in the summer of 2015.

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