January 28, 2020
Animal care is at the heart of what we do every day at the Zoo. Our curators and zoological managers from each animal unit selected their favorite 2019 accomplishment for animal care.
In 2019, the Primate Unit continued its work to continually improve animal welfare.
The Primate House team is excited to have the Primate Canopy Trails project underway! The innovative exhibit will feature eight outdoor habitats connected by a series of tunnels, allowing monkeys and lemurs to explore and move to new spaces regularly. Construction began in the fall of 2019, and the exhibit is slated to open in 2021. Designing Primate Canopy Trails included involvement and input from the keepers, zoological managers and curator from the very beginning, in addition to the expertise of the Zoo’s Architecture and Planning team and architect firm. Many of the exciting features, including an acrylic tunnel that will go through one of the habitats at treetop level for adventurous visitors, were ideas from the primate keepers. This team-based approach to the concept and design of Primate Canopy Trails has resulted in a unique and innovative exhibit that will be amazing for animals and visitors alike.
The Jungle of the Apes team focused on increasing the apes’ foraging options to give them more opportunities for natural feeding behaviors. This was accomplished in numerous ways, including with the help of new termite mound/rockwork feeders for the gorillas and orangutans and wall feeders for the chimpanzees. Additionally, a specially constructed feeding platform above the gorillas’ outdoor habitat allows keepers to easily toss or scatter food throughout the area, which increases the gorillas’ foraging and allows visitors to see them engaging in these natural behaviors. – Heidi Helmuth, Curator of Primates