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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. The east side does have potential...and I have always thought Washington Scare should become an outlet mall. Anyone remember how popular Eastgate was? Well, Indy has no outlet malls, we have to go to Edinburgh for the deep discounts and I don't understand why. Jim is right. We need a few good eastsiders interested in actually making some noise and trying to change the commerce, culture and stereotypes of the East side. Irvington is very progressive and making great strides, why can't the far east side ride on their coat tails to make some changes?

  2. Boston.com has an article from 2010 where they talk about how Interactions moved to Massachusetts in the year prior. http://www.boston.com/business/technology/innoeco/2010/07/interactions_banks_63_million.html The article includes a link back to that Inside Indiana Business press release I linked to earlier, snarkily noting, "Guess this 2006 plan to create 200-plus new jobs in Indiana didn't exactly work out."

  3. I live on the east side and I have read all your comments. a local paper just did an article on Washington square mall with just as many comments and concerns. I am not sure if they are still around, but there was an east side coalition with good intentions to do good things on the east side. And there is a facebook post that called my eastside indy with many old members of the eastside who voice concerns about the east side of the city. We need to come together and not just complain and moan, but come up with actual concrete solutions, because what Dal said is very very true- the eastside could be a goldmine in the right hands. But if anyone is going damn, and change things, it is us eastside residents

  4. Please go back re-read your economics text book and the fine print on the February 2014 CBO report. A minimum wage increase has never resulted in a net job loss...

  5. The GOP at the Statehouse is more interested in PR to keep their majority, than using it to get anything good actually done. The State continues its downward spiral.

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