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The New Orangutan Exhibit at the Phoenix Zoo

The Phoenix Zoo's new motto is "World Class Zoo for a World Class City" and let me tell you, they are getting it right.  I am impressed.  When I was younger and attended the zoo, I remember a few things:  walking, being hot, the goats and the alligators.  Well, the alligators are gone, but the zoo has improved immensely since I started going nearly 3 decades ago.  Where should I start?  There are splash pads that my kiddos love, stingrays to pet, a much improved children's farm/play area, buildings to host events in, and most importantly, the ability to get closer to the giraffes, the elephants, the monkeys and now the orangutans!

(All pictures are from our visit yesterday and were taken by my husband)

Marily and I were invited to attend the zoo yesterday with our children to see the Phoenix Zoo's new orangutan exhibit.  Forgive me for being a little emotional, but it was AWESOME!  My girls were part of history, watching as these orangutans were fed by their handler for the public to view for the very first time.  My daughters came face to face with these amazing creatures.  The orangutans played for them, rolled around right in front of their eyes, even played a little peek-a-boo.  It's what you would expect at a zoo like the San Diego Zoo, and now it's right in our own backyard.

The exhibit consists of two indoor areas, a very large outdoor area, underground housing for the orangutans at night and an indoor air-conditioned room for sitting and viewing these animals.  The first air-conditioned room at the Phoenix Zoo for guests.  Before, when it was hot at the zoo, you had splash pads and shaded areas like the bird atrium to cool you off, now you actually have AC!  (Am I the only one so excited for a room with AC to cool off while at the zoo?)  Jeremy, one of the zoo workers behind the design of this exhibit, gave us a tour and explained that since introducing the orangutan family into their new exhibit, this was the first time that some of these orangutans have ever set foot on grass.  Duchess, the grandma orangutan has actually been at the Phoenix zoo since the start in 1962 and is now 51 years old, the oldest Bornean orangutan in North America.  She played on grass for the first time since she was 2.  (And by the way, she Tweets.  I Heart Mesa now follows her!  Tweeting orangutans...)

And if you want the know, the stars of this show are:  Duchess - grandma, Bess - daughter, Michael - son-in-law, and Kasih - 5 year old grand-daughter.  

Sure, the zoo provided us with a free zoo admission to view this exhibit, but my words are not more dramatic because of it.  Honestly, I was amazed.  I could have stayed for hours watching these animals, but my girls reminded me that I also promised them a camel and carousel ride.

My beloved air-conditioned room.  Just outside those large windows is the outdoor play area for the orangutan family.

 The glass window opens so the handler can have access to the animals.  This was the training/feeding of the orangutans with their handler Denise.  My girls saw history at the Phoenix Zoo!

Okay, now get yourself out to the Phoenix Zoo, it's worth it.  And this time, we even had the Wild Admission, so we got to ride the carousel, pet the sting-rays and ride the train.  I hadn't done those in years and my girls had a blast.  If you haven't taken the time to take in the full zoo experience, do it!  This is a world class zoo for a world class city.  

The orangutan exhibit opens for members today and for the rest of the public April 11th.  I can't wait to go back.

- Kathryn  


Nichelle said...

Looks amazing! And don't forget about eating bullets at the playground in the children's area!

Kim Hosey said...

How cool. I can't wait to go to the exhibit.

You're right; it's changed so much over the years. We stared going in 1986 and I remember the best "kids' playground" thing then was the giant tractor thing you could climb on.

The Wizzle said...

I LOVE orangutans! I can't wait to see the new habitat. I think this will finally be the year we get passes. Did you know it opens early in the summer, like 7 am I think? Super awesome something to do before other things open, to keep the kids busy, before it gets too hot.