Auckland Zoo's brand new primate habitat for orangutans and siamangs opened it's doors to the public today.
The first phase of the zoo's $60 million South East Asia Jungle Track has finally been completed following five years of planning and two and a half years of construction.
The new primate habitat will span one-fifth of the zoo and will also feature other habitats for Sumatran tigers, Sunda gharial (crocodiles), Asian small-clawed otters, fish and other reptile species.
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"Today marks the culmination of a simply epic journey to construct the first phase of our South East Asia Jungle Track experience that has utterly transformed a large part of
Auckland's zoo," says Auckland Zoo director, Kevin Buley.
Other aspects of phase one also include infrastructure renewals, enhancing the purifying function of the Zoo's lake, a stunning new 1000 m2 wharekai and function venue. It also features an impressive network of 25m high aerial pathways linking from the primate habitat out over the lake.
The high aerial pathways allow for the agile orangutans' and siamang to behave and move as they do in the wild, climbing up and across the rainforests high canopy.
Auckland Zoo primate team leader Amy Robbins, who has worked with the zoo's orangutans and siamangs for almost 20 years, says the new habitat "is an absolute dream come true" and that both species made themselves completely at home as soon as they moved in.
"To see our orangutans and siamangs – ambassadors for their wild counterparts – having this immersive environment that so brilliantly provides for how I see their species behave in the wild, and ensures their absolute best care, is just wonderful."
The $60 million track is part of the #FutureZoo renewals programme that has been made viable for the Auckland Zoo as part of the Regional Facilities Auckland with the backing of Auckland Council.
The track proves to be the zoo's most ambitious project in its 97-year history and aims to ensure its sustainability well into the future for Aucklanders.