I serve as a member of the board of trustees of the Phoenix Zoo, and if you haven’t been there in a while, I urge you to come by. (Out of towners, put it on your list for the next time you get to Phoenix.) It’s an exciting time in the zoo’s history. The organization is not quite 50 years old, and it receives almost no public money, but we never had a capital campaign until the one we formally kicked off in October 2008. The goal of the campaign, called A World Class Zoo for a World Class City, is $20 million, and we’re about 75 percent of the way there. As a result, exciting things are happening.
We opened a Komodo dragon exhibit last year, and a new Sumatran tiger exhibit is on the drawing boards. Right around the corner, in April, is the opening of one of our most anticipated exhibits, Orang-Hutan: “People of the Forest” Orangutan Experience.
Our Bornean orangutan exhibit, and the sleeping facilities for the animals, were badly in need of renovation. They were state of the art when built, but they had fallen behind the times. The new exhibit will feature the choices & challenges that orangutans face in the wild, while providing several different vantage points to guests. The orangutans will have their choice of two distinct habitats – outdoors for warmer months and indoors for colder months. As a result, zoo guests will be able to see them all year long. (Orangutans don’t like the cold, so they haven’t been accessible when temperatures fall below 65 degrees – cold for Phoenix!)
The zoo is home to four orangutans, including Duchess, who at nearly 51 is the oldest-living orangutan in a zoo. Life expectancy for orangutans in the wild is about 40 years. Orangutans face significant challenges in the wild, and many experts fear that they face extinction within the next couple of decades.
Come by to see the new exhibit when it opens in April. To see more videos like the one above, check here from time to time.