Zoo launches $30M campaign to build orangutan center

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Indianapolis Zoo officials on Tuesday unveiled the launch of a $30 million capital campaign with most of the money intended for a major new orangutan exhibit.

The "Campaign for Conservation and Community: Saving the Orangutans" will provide funding to build an International Orangutan Center, which the zoo says will provide a state-of-the-art home to some of the world’s most endangered primates. The center will cost about $20 million.

Construction is set to begin in August 2012 with a completion date of November 2013. The exhibit would open over Memorial Day weekend in 2014. It initially would house eight orangutans, six of which already are at the zoo. The two others would likely come from Zoo Atlanta.

Local architectural firm Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf Associates designed the orangutan habitat.

The proposed center would give visitors several opportunities to view the animals, ranging from intimate encounters at ground level to aerial rides above the facility.

“The International Orangutan Center will provide the apes with a rich and complex environment perfectly suited to their needs,” said Dr. Robert Shumaker, the zoo’s vice president of life sciences, in a prepared statement. “It will quite simply be the best zoo habitat for orangutans in the world.”

Architectural highlights of the center include the 150-foot tall Beacon of Hope that will be illuminated at night and a 90-foot-tall, four-season atrium featuring both indoor and outdoor viewing for visitors.

Also, the Hutan Trail mimics an orangutan highway through the forest and allows the animals to leave the atrium and travel to different places throughout the zoo, above ground.

The Skyline aerial cable ride complements the trail by giving visitors a unique view of the orangutans.  

Indianapolis Zoo President and CEO Michael Crowther is expected to officially announce the campaign Tuesday evening at the IMAX Theater in the Indiana State Museum.

Scheduled to join Crowther are Tim Solso, CEO and chairman of Columbus, Ind.-based Cummins Inc., who also is chairing the zoo’s campaign, and Alan Cohen, chairman of the zoo’s board of trustees.

Lead gifts to the campaign already have been received from several donors: R.B. Annis Educational Foundation, Alan and Linda Cohen Family Foundation, Cummins Foundation, Suzanne & Fred Fehsenfeld Jr., Margot Lacy Eccles, Heritage Group, Lilly Endowment, Ruth Lilly Philanthropic Foundation, Myrta J. Pulliam, Deborah J. Simon and the Solso family.

Besides funding the orangutan center, the campaign also will support Tiger Forest, which opened this year; a renovated front entrance plaza and admissions area opening in the spring; the new Encounters area featuring "Flights of Fancy: A Brilliance of Birds," opening Memorial Day weekend 2012; and a new African lion habitat.
Orangutans are one of the four great ape species, along with gorillas, chimpanzees, and bonobos. They are native to Indonesia and Malaysia, and are considered an endangered species.


  • YES!
    This project was on the books back in Dr.Bonner's reign years ago, because few species are as fascinating as orangutans. They are incredibly intelligent animals, thus human interaction should be a show case to make the stewardship resposibilities of mankind strike at the heart. I CANNOT WAIT TO SEE THIS! It will be on a par with the White River Garden. GO ZOO!
  • I agree about the overhead viewings
    That would constastly stree the orangutans out.
  • Don't like primates!
    Monkey C-----------that means you do not like yourself.
  • Great!
    This project looks amazing and the zoo is a great asset to DT Indy. I hope this goes well and I can't wait to see it.
  • Great!
    This project looks amazing and the zoo is a great asset to DT Indy. I hope this goes well and I can't wait to see it.
  • Ignorance
    Wow, your ignorance is amazing!!! Along with your negativity!!! Feel for you
  • http://www.ibj.com/zoo-launches-30m-campaign-to-build-orangutan-center/PARAMS/article/31202
    I sure would hope that Indianapolis Zoo does
    not erect arial rides above the new orangutan
    exhibit as this would most certain not give
    them peace of mind, but rather cause them
    a whole lot of stress.Aim to please your
    captive animals not the visitors, as visitors
    are free to come and go and do what they like
  • Who cares?
    Primates are disgusting. Let's expand with some better animals.

    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 am a Lyft driver who is a licensed CDL professional driver. ALL Lyft drivers take pride in providing quality service to the Indianapolis and surrounding areas, and we take the safety of our passengers and the public seriously.(passengers are required to put seat belts on when they get in our cars) We do go through background checks, driving records are checked as are the personal cars we drive, (these are OUR private cars we use) Unlike taxi cabs and their drivers Lyft (and yes Uber) provide passengers with a clean car inside and out, a friendly and courteous driver, and who is dressed appropriately and is groomed appropriately. I go so far as to offer mints, candy and/or small bottle of water to the my customers. It's a mutual respect between driver and passenger. With Best Regards

    2. to be the big fish in the little pond of IRL midwest racin' when yer up against Racin' Gardner

    3. In the first sentance "As a resident of one of these new Carmel Apartments the issue the local governments need to discuss are build quality & price." need a way to edit

    4. As a resident of one of these new Carmel Apartments the issue the local governments need to discuss is build quality & price. First none of these places is worth $1100 for a one bedroom. Downtown Carmel or Keystone at the Crossing in Indy. It doesn't matter. All require you to get in your car to get just about anywhere you need to go. I'm in one of the Carmel apartments now where after just 2.5 short years one of the kitchen cabinet doors is crooked and lawn and property maintenance seems to be lacking my old Indianapolis apartment which cost $300 less. This is one of the new star apartments. As they keep building throughout the area "deals" will start popping up creating shoppers. If your property is falling apart after year 3 what will it look like after year 5 or 10??? Why would one stay here if they could move to a new Broad Ripple in 2 to 3 years or another part of the Far Northside?? The complexes aren't going to let the "poor" move in without local permission so that's not that problem, but it the occupancy rate drops suddenly because the "Young" people moved back to Indy then look out.

    5. Why are you so concerned about Ace hardware? I don't understand why anyone goes there! Every time ive gone in the past, they don't have what I need and I end up going to the big box stores. I understand the service aspect and that they try to be helpful but if they are going to survive I think they might need to carry more specialty parts.