In fact, cool could be the word to describe the latest and greatest exhibit at the San Diego Zoo: Absolutely Apes. Opened just in time for the busy summer season, Absolutely Apes is more than just a new exhibit for those colorful orangutans. Actually, Absolutely Apes is an innovative, naturalistic forest habitat where the formerly neighboring but separated orangutans and siamangs now live together as they would in the wild.
For the first time in the Zoos history, the two families of arboreal apes who are indigenous to the same Asian rainforest ecosystem will share a habitat at the Zoo. Its another example of the San Diego Zoos bioclimatic concept of introducing animals and plants from a similar tropical climate zone and giving them the opportunity to live as they would in the wild.
When you reach the exhibits viewing area, after swinging by the also newly renovated and improved flamingo lagoon at the Zoos entry plaza, youll have an enormous 110-foot-long, 12-foot-tall glass observation window for you to get an extreme close-up of these amazing apes. While the siamangs might swing like trapeze artists among the trees, ropes and climbing structures while hooting with their loud and distinctive vocalizations, some of the orangutans could decide to show off their dexterity romping along the ground or just interacting with us humans at the glass.
According to San Diego Zoo architect Robyn Badger, the new enclosure is twice the size of the old exhibit and has a more naturalistic setting with nearly 40 live trees, termite mounds, rocky caves and fallen trees that help replicate an Asian forest floor. In fact, the exhibit is so naturalistic that youll even notice that beneath your feet in the viewing area is a soft, rubberized substance that mimics wood mulch. Which makes it easy on the legs as youll likely spend a good part of your Zoo visit watching the orangs.
Orangutan, which means man-of-the-forest in Malayan, is the only great ape from Asia and they face extinction due to habitat loss and the illegal pet trade. Siamangs are the largest of all lesser apes and are unique because of their resonating vocalizations which can be heard throughout the Zoo grounds.
So if you make it to the San Diego Zoo this summer, by all means swing on by the very cool Absolutely Apes exhibit. Its the closest thing to seeing these wonderful apes living together as they would in their native Asia, and I guarantee youll be entertained. Absolutely!