Imagine seeing orangutans hanging above your head or being eye to eye with the great apes. That’s part of the experience now at the Toronto Zoo.
Orangutans of Gunung Leuser, Guardians of the Rainforest is the zoo’s first outdoor habitat for orangutans since the zoo opened nearly 50 years ago.
Designed in partnership with Zeidler Architecture and Jones & Jones Architects, the space mimics orangutans’ natural habitat while fostering an immersive experience.
“This habitat really brings the guests close to the animals,” said Ben Knoop, a project manager at the zoo.
He says the goal of the habitat is to help guests better understand orangutans while educating them on the threats humans pose through palm oil plantations.
While the 13,000-square-foot space officially opened over the summer, the zoo says its seven Sumatran orangutans only recently started exploring their new Rouge forest home.
“It’s the most natural-looking space of our habitats,” said Knoop.
He says the new space, “allows the orangutans to act naturally and perform behaviours that they would in the wild, like forage for food or play in a stream.”
Although the orangutans have begun curiously exploring the new outdoor space, the Toronto Zoo says that as the weather gets colder, they’ll stay in a covered habitat until temperatures warm up again in the spring.