By John McDevitt, Pat Ciarrocchi
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Philadelphia Zoo today unveiled the second phase of its groundbreaking new trail initiative.
The 200-foot “Great Ape Trail” debuted this morning.
The zoo’s orangutans, 20-year-old Tua and her 2½-year-old daughter Batu, have been getting acclimated to the new enclosure for the past several days.
The new trail is part of an innovative new travel network for the zoo’s animals that premiered last year with the “Treetop Trail,” for lemurs and small monkeys.
The trail system will allow different species with similar habitat requirements to access each other’s areas, and to travel long distances throughout the zoo.
Kimberly Lengel, vice president of animal programs for the zoo, says that the animal travel and exploration trail system is a pilot program and the first of its kind in the world.
“Eventually, this [trail] will get connected to another series of trails that we are going to build in the future that will allow the orangutans to move all the way down to the other end of the zoo. There will be a big exhibit down there for them, so this movement is like the practice,” Lengel explains.
The Great Ape Trail will only be open to the orangutans at first, but will eventually be used by the gibbons as well.
By 2015, zoo officials hope to have completed 1.5 miles of trails, including a large one for animals like hippos and rhinoceri.