Orang-Hutan: 'People of the Forest' to open at Phoenix Zoo

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PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Zoo's new Orang-Hutan: “People of the Forest” habitat officially opens to the public Monday, but April Warnecke got a sneak peek a few days early.

The new habitat, which is considerably larger than the old one, is home to the zoo's family of four Bornean orangutans -- Duchess, the 50-year-old matriarch is believed to be the oldest orangutan in captivity, Michael and Bess, and 5-year-old Kasih.

The new facility includes two indoor climate controlled habitats and two large outdoor habitats with sway poles, ropes and plenty of climbing structures for the orangutans.

The previous exhibit was built in 1975, and was considered state of the art at the time. Since then, more has been learned about orangutans’ needs, behaviors, and social structures. All of that was incorporated into this new naturalistic exhibit.

Because the habitat is so much  larger, the zoo now has the option to add more orangutans in the future.

Orang-Hutan was funded in part by a $500,000 from Tempe-based Orangutan Homes Services.