First look at Great Ape Trail at the Phila. Zoo

August 16, 2012 3:48:09 PM PDT
Animals at the Philadelphia Zoo are getting some more freedom to roam. A second phase of a suspended trail-way system opened Thursday.

It is a truly unique campus-wide trail network at the Philadelphia Zoo; it is the brand new Great Ape Trail.

"These animals are just excited about anything new and interesting," said Dr. Meredith Bastian. "I think for our almost 3-year-old female Orangutan Batu, this is just so exciting. It's like someone just put a fort in her backyard one day."

It is an emerging trend among zoos, and the Orangutans are the first to be given access to the enclosed trail, allowing them to travel long distances across the zoo, and connecting them with other habitats.

The new found freedom is expected to improve the animals' overall physical and mental well-being by once again giving them a sense of life back in the wild.

"As you saw today with the baby Orangutan and the mother, walking through this system closely mimics the way they would be in the tree cover in the rain-forests of Sumatra," explains Philadelphia Zoo President Vik Dewan.

But while other zoos have dabbled in the habitat trail concept, The Philadelphia Zoo is the first to create a trail that covers the entire complex, and Dewan says that makes it pretty cool for the humans as well.

"The new system will allow people to connect with animals in a way that is unprecedented; because they will get to see them from so many different perspectives, above them, below them, from the side, and the way they are behaving in a way that we don't normally see," Dewan said.

Zoo officials say they eventually want to make the network trail open to all of the animals at the zoo, but they admit it will take years because they want to make sure it is safe for both the animals and the general public.


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