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LOU'S VIEWS: Welcome to the ape house

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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.

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  1. I had read earlier this spring that Noodles & Co was going to open in the Fishers Marketplace (which is SR 37 and 131st St, not 141st St, just FYI). Any word on that? Also, do you happen to know what is being built in Carmel at Pennsylvania and Old Meridian? May just be an office building but I'm not sure.

  2. I'm sorry, but you are flat out wrong. There are few tracks in the world with the history of IMS and probably NO OTHER as widely known and recognized. I don't care what you think about the stat of Indy Car racing, these are pretty hard things to dispute.

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  4. Why does the majority get to trample on the rights of the minority? You do realize that banning gay marriage does not rid the world of gay people, right? They are still going to be around and they are still going to continue to exist. The best way to get it all out of the spotlight? LEGALIZE IT! If gay marriage is legal, they will get to stop trying to push for it and you will get to stop seeing it all over the news. Why do Christians get to decide what is moral?? Why do you get to push your religion on others? How would legalizing gay marriage expose their lifestyle to your children? By the way, their lifestyle is going to continue whether gay marriage is legalized or not. It's been legal in Canada for quite a while now and they seem to be doing just fine. What about actual rules handed down by God? What about not working on Sundays? What about obeying your parents? What about adultery? These are in the 10 Commandments, the most important of God's rules. Yet they are all perfectly legal. What about divorce? Only God is allowed to dissolve a marriage so why don't you work hard to get divorce banned? Why do you get to pick and choose the parts of the Bible you care about?

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