Internationally admired zoo exhibit to open

(WISH Photo/Drew Blair)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The newest attraction at the Indianapolis Zoo has gained worldwide attention before it even opened to the public.

The Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center, which opens on Saturday is being called one of the most significant zoo exhibits in the world according to zoo officials.

24-Hour News 8 went beyond the fence on Tuesday to get a preview of the facility, which has been under construction since September 2012. Inside is a home to eight members of one of the most endangered species on Earth. Saving the orangutan is what Indianapolis Zoo CEO and President Mike Crowther said the new $20 million center is all about.

“What we need to do is build bridges between people and wildlife and this does this better than anything that I’ve ever seen,” Crowther said. “You’re going to fall in love with orangutans and when you fall in love with them, you’re going to want to do something to ensure they’re around for your children and your grandchildren.”

Visitors will have a chance to get to know the great ape face-to-face. A wall of glass is all that separates the stars and spectators in a habitat the zoo said best represents the animal’s natural home.

“They can go high. They can choose to associate with others or avoid others. They can find food. They can solve problems. They live their lives exactly like they would in the jungle of Borneo,” Crowther said.

Members were invited to preview the center May 21-23 before it was scheduled to open on Saturday. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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