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The Phoenix Zoo is the only zoo in Arizona that houses great apes, and one of only 48 zoos in the United States and Canada that houses orangutans. In April of 2011, the Phoenix Zoo was proud to unveil Orang-Hutan: “People of the Forest.” This state-of-the-art exhibit allows orangutans to climb and swing above the ground as they do in the forests of Borneo. It also allows guests to come face-to-face with orangutans in a closer than ever before experience.

We believe that exhibiting these amazing animals in a naturalistic environment will enable zoo guests to learn more about orangutans and their endangered forest home, and inspire people to live in ways that promote the well-being of the natural world.

Our new orangutan exhibit is the most ambitious exhibit in the Zoo’s nearly 50 year history.

Through our Conservation & Science Grants Program, the Phoenix Zoo is supporting organizations in Borneo that are working with local governments, villages, and scientists to establish protected forests and create a safer home for wild orangutans and other forest animals.

Below is a summary of some of the projects we are proud to assist:

HUTAN – this conservation group in Malaysia trains local villagers to work as paid interns who help with scientific research on wild orangutans and elephants, serve as forest rangers, and help educate local communities to limit human/wildlife conflict.

Health in Harmony – this group assists villagers living in the forests to minimize their impact on wildlife habitat through organic farming methods and by providing healthcare in exchange for work in community gardens.  This program provides needed economic incentives for local people to protect the forest along the edges of Gunung Palung National Park. The Zoo has specifically funded the Goats for Widows program, which supplies goats to villagers and teaches them how to care for and breed the animals so they can provide for their families.  In turn, the widows multiply the benefits by sharing some of the resulting baby goats with others in their communities.

Bornean Carnivore Study – by installing motion-sensing cameras in key locations, researchers are learning how different species use the forest and move along wildlife corridors. This knowledge greatly increases the ability for land managers to conserve forests in a way that is most beneficial to many species of animals and plants.

Gunung Palung Orangutan Conservation Program – this program is focused on creating strong relationships between local people and the forest in order to protect orangutans and their habitat in Indonesian Borneo.  Key project objectives include enhancing legal protections for orangutans to combat illegal trade, creating sustainable economic opportunities for local people as an alternative to activities that harm forests, supporting environmental education for local K-12 teachers and students, and supporting research on orangutans living in the Gunung Palung National Park.

Walking the Talk: Phoenix Zoo’s Commitment to Conservation

Each of these projects touches on elements of the Phoenix Zoo’s conservation priorities:  aiding communities living in and near crucial wildlife habitat by helping them build skills and including them in research and education projects to ensure that the work is important to them and not just to us.  A portion of the proceeds from every visit to the Zoo supports conservation in our region and throughout the world.  Thank you for helping us live up to our commitment to the animals in our collection and to their wild counterparts.

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