It's time to step out on the wild side, and we're headed to the Indianapolis Zoo to visit with the “People of the forest,” which is the translation for Orangutan in Indonesia. On our journey, we’ll discover more about these amazing creatures that are closely related to humans, and how the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center at the Indianapolis Zoo is shining a light of hope for the future generations.
The visually stunning and ambitious exhibit is the national recognized as home to the largest group of orangutans in any American zoo. When we visited, we were just amazed when we looked into the eyes of the orangutans - we were watching each others - studying one another. And, as you'll discover, the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center is unlike any other zoo exhibit you’ve seen. Look up, and you’ll see how graceful the orangutans are as they swing back and forth upwards of 70 feet high across the “functional forest.” Throughout the exhibit the orangutans have the freedom to go where they please or wander off to one of the three Oases where they can seek solitude from the others. This is where we found several orangutans climbing way high above and they could look out over the city of Indianapolis.
Wonder what it feels like to soar among the trees? Find out by using the Skyline that offers a dramatic aerial cable ride above the Zoo near the Hutan Trail for a unique perspective on the orangutans. On your high flying trip you’ll have the opportunity to ponder Vice President of Conservation and Life Sciences at the Indianapolis Zoo, Dr. Rob Shumaker thought, “Look into the eyes of an orangutan, and a sentient being looks back.”
When your feet are back on the ground visit the Efroymson Family Exploration Hub to experience first-hand the puzzle solving skills of the apes as they work together at several interactive stations. The orangutans here are into tech; in fact, they have the world’s first orangutan vending machines.
The giant apes also have a knack for art. Sound ridiculous? You’ll think otherwise as you create a masterpiece by digitally finger painting side-by-side with an orangutan. They’re also learning new language skills on the computers in the Tim M. Solso Learning Studio. And, this is just the beginning of groundbreaking ways the orangutans at the Center will utilize technology.
There are several kiosks set up throughout the exhibit that reveal more about orangutans in the wild, which are now limited to the remote islands of Borneo and Sumatra. To help reestablish their home in the wild, the Indianapolis Zoo is supporting an Indonesian reforestation initiative that will begin in Borneo’s Kutai National Park. The project will start planting trees in areas where forests have been depleted. During your visit the International Orangutan Center you’ll also learn how the loss of suitable forest habitats have impacted the orangutans and other animals, and how you can help.
When visiting Indianapolis at night be sure to look for the stunning centerpiece of the Nina Mason Pulliam Beacon of Hope. This towering 150-foot structure is illuminated each night by multi-colored lights; and the orangutans themselves will be choose which color to light the Beacon!
The Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center will surprise and enlighten all who visit the exhibit of the importance of saving natures creatures and our environment. And, with continuing efforts and compassion the ray of hope for orangutans and other species on the brink of extinction will dawn upon a day when they thrive in the wild once again.
Plan your Visit To The Indianapolis Zoo
To plan a visit to the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center at the Indianapolis Zoo go to their website.
By Melody Schubert