By Wanda Wierzbicki

I had a sneak peak at the new outdoor orangutan exhibit at the Toronto Zoo and it is fabulous. It’s big and spacious and different from anything else at the zoo.

The first things you notice are the high towers and platforms. In the wild, orangutans spend most of their time in the trees and rarely come down to the ground. The towers will be connected by ropes allowing the animals to move from platform to platform while looking out over the Rouge Valley and the people below.

The new exhibit features a holding area and a behaviour research area. The outdoor habitat has been designed to stimulate the physical, social and intellectual needs of the zoo’s troop of seven orangutans. These animals are semi-solitary, and this habitat will allow several of them to be out at the same time and yet have their own space.

The oldest Sumatran orangutan at the zoo is 55-year-old Puppe, who has lived at the Toronto Zoo since it opened in 1974. The youngest is 6-month-old Wali.

One of the interesting new concepts is a water fountain feature that will allow the orangutans to spray people with water. They are very intelligent and curious. I can’t wait to see how much this water feature will be utilized. Next to the exhibit is a climbing area for human kids to enjoy. This looks like a lot of fun, too.

The new outdoor orangutan exhibit is going to be a beautiful addition to the Toronto Zoo and a wonderful outdoor place where the orangutans can live and thrive. It is expected to be completed later this year with an official grand opening planned for next spring. I can’t wait.