LOU'S VIEWS: Welcome to the ape house

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Lou Harry

I like to think of myself as a diligent researcher when it comes to this column.

ae-azy-with-girl-craig-banister-15col.jpg Azy, makes friends with a visitor. (Photos courtesy Indianapolis Zoo)

At least, that’s the excuse I’ve given for having visited the Indianapolis Zoo multiple times over the past few weeks.

The reality, though, is that I just can’t get enough of the eight residents of the recently opened Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center. And, truth be told, I intend to find every excuse I can to visit this amazing octet again soon.

The Indianapolis Zoo is, of course, filled with wonders. The polar bears rock, the sea lions are a hoot, petting sharks never gets old, and on your next visit, you really should get there early enough for the daily flamingo mingle.

But watching our distant cousins, the orangutans, in action transcends those experiences. You should go to see alpha male Azy wisely tap a computer screen to put objects in their proper order—and see his fellow curiosity-filled simians eager for their turns at the machine.

To witness gregarious Rocky—the most “hey-look-at-me” of the bunch—methodically figure out how to strip the rubber caulking from around a window of the Center ... then do the same to the other windows in less and less time. (I have no doubt that, if left alone for a week, the orangutans would occupy City Hall).

To just spend time staring into Knobi’s eyes … and being honored by the way she stares back in return. All offer more than just great photo ops to post on Facebook. There’s something soulful about these connections.

ae-rocky2-ian-nichols-15col.jpg Rocky, bottom, swings into action.

It helps that the area they occupy is so wisely designed. The cathedral-like main building offers plenty of window space to see the apes from outside or in. Inside, smart—and brief—displays give plenty of context to help understand the beasts within while also providing opportunities to help conserve the natural habitat of the orangutans in Borneo and Sumatra. (For the record, our orangutans were rescued from the entertainment industry, not plucked from the wild.)

Visit in the afternoon and you are more likely to see Azy and company at their computer.

If you’re lucky, you’ll also see one of the bunch head out across the high-wires like an especially hairy Flying Wallenda, climb down a tower, and into one of the outpost oases. (Soon, you’ll be able to see that from a gondola circling the same path.)

And, like me, you might find yourself speculating about what’s going on in that almost-human brain as it looks out over the Indianapolis skyline.•


This column appears weekly. Send information on upcoming arts and entertainment events to lharry@ibj.com.


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. I never thought I'd see the day when a Republican Mayor would lead the charge in attempting to raise every tax we have to pay. Now it's income taxes and property taxes that Ballard wants to increase. And to pay for a pre-K program? Many studies have shown that pre-K offer no long-term educational benefits whatsoever. And Ballard is pitching it as a way of fighting crime? Who is he kidding? It's about government provided day care. It's a shame that we elected a Republican who has turned out to be a huge big spending, big taxing, big borrowing liberal Democrat.

  2. Why do we blame the unions? They did not create the 11 different school districts that are the root of the problem.

  3. I was just watching an AOW race from cleveland in 1997...in addition to the 65K for the race, there were more people in boats watching that race from the lake than were IndyCar fans watching the 2014 IndyCar season finale in the Fontana grandstands. Just sayin...That's some resurgence modern IndyCar has going. Almost profitable, nobody in the grandstands and TV ratings dropping 61% at some tracks in the series. Business model..."CRAZY" as said by a NASCAR track general manager. Yup, this thing is purring like a cat! Sponsors...send them your cash, pronto!!! LOL, not a chance.

  4. I'm sure Indiana is paradise for the wealthy and affluent, but what about the rest of us? Over the last 40 years, conservatives and the business elite have run this country (and state)into the ground. The pendulum will swing back as more moderate voters get tired of Reaganomics and regressive social policies. Add to that the wave of minority voters coming up in the next 10 to 15 years and things will get better. unfortunately we have to suffer through 10 more years of gerrymandered districts and dispropionate representation.

  5. Funny thing....rich people telling poor people how bad the other rich people are wanting to cut benefits/school etc and that they should vote for those rich people that just did it. Just saying..............