Hubbard’s Orangutan Forest Renovation Redefines Animals and Visitors

OMAHA, Neb. (Nebraska) — Orangutans have been part of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha since the 60s and are one of the world’s most endangered species.

“We feel it is very important to tell this story, not just the story of the orangutans, but also the story of the forest that we are losing and, as a result, we are losing the orangutans,” said Dr. Luis Padilla, CEO and President of Henry Omaha. Dorley Zoo and Aquarium.

With a new $21 million project. They hope to share this story.

“We are taking on a space that we are all very proud of, it has a rich history and heritage. We are turning it into something completely new,” Padilla said.

New renovation, but also rethinking. He plans to allocate more space for the four orangutans currently at the zoo, improve workspaces for staff, and expand facilities for guests.

“Our goal is to immerse our guests in the life of animals and their natural habitat,” said Padilla.

Theme: “Welcome to Southeast Asia”.

“When someone goes inside, you are really transported to a completely different space, where there are more natural elements, more plant life, brighter spaces with more natural elements,” Padilla said.

Giving animals a familiar atmosphere.

“You can really interact with orangutans face to face if they want to, but you can definitely see them in a way that we have never been able to see them before,” Padilla said.

With unobstructed views and educational spots, guests get the full experience.

“Guests can learn more about the various elements of orangutan care and the biodiversity of Southeast Asia,” Padilla said.

And the zoo also plans to use technology.

“We know that monkeys are very intelligent, just like humans, and we want to allow them to demonstrate their intelligence using technological ways to play and interact,” Padilla said.

Padilla said that this exhibition will be one of the best in the country.

“I think the guests who enter this space will be truly amazed, like no other place that I know of in any zoo in the US,” Padilla said.

The project started in September 2022. The zoo said it expects the animals to be able to experience the exhibit’s new outdoor areas starting this summer. But the newly renovated space won’t be officially open to guests until May 2024.


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