Zoo lands $5M gift for new orangutan center

May 5, 2014

The Indianapolis Zoo is celebrating a $5 million donation in support of its new orangutan center, which is expected to open to the public May 24.

Zoo officials said Monday that the donation comes from Indianapolis philanthropist Cindy Simon Skjodt (pronounced Scott). In recognition of that donation, the new exhibit is being named the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center.

The new $26 million exhibit features an atrium with a 50-foot ceiling and an overhead primates trail that will reach 80 feet above ground. The center will house eight orangutans.

Simon Skjodt is the daughter of late Indiana Pacers co-owner and shopping mall magnate Melvin Simon. She and her husband gave $40 million last year toward the renovation of Indiana University's Assembly Hall.

Skjodt's other recent gifts include $2 million to the Herron School of Art and Design’s Art Therapy Program and $1.5 million to the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

Skjodt, who was named a 2013 Woman of Influence by IBJ last year, founded and leads the Samerian Foundation, her family's charitable foundation.


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