The new Primate Forest will provide a complex and stimulating habitat for an expanded chimpanzee family, tell the story of the conservation challenges they face from deforestation, and provide visitors with guidance on how to take action on their behalf.
Apes in natural landscapes
Primates are highly intelligent animals that live in family groups. The zoo's chimps will have larger, complex and stimulating outdoor habitats with weather protection, allowing them to choose how they spend their day. New plans include improvements under the current bond funding and a larger exhibit in the future when the zoo completes its 20-year master plan.
Wild chimps live in forest, woodland and savanna habitats in family groups that are predominantly female. The males separate from these groups in adolescence. Chimps also make "fission and fusion" adaptations to their group size, responding to the availability of food and social situations within their troop. Primate Forest will allow the zoo's chimps to express these natural behaviors, providing each animal with options for where and with whom he or she hangs out. The new habitat provides room for family groups to live together and separate as they choose.
The zoo's chimpanzees currently live in facilities that were built when the zoo opened on its current site in 1959 and that were last remodeled in the 1980s. The building has undergone cosmetic improvements over the years, but it is outdated. Red Ape Reserve, the home for orangutans and white-cheeked gibbons that opened in 2010, will remain. Animals living in the older primate building will move to homes at other zoos, and the building will be demolished to make way for the new Primate Forest habitat.