Goodbye Monkey Yard, Hello Monkey Trails
The primate exhibits on Bird and Primate Mesa were a venerable part of the San Diego Zoo, housing an impressive variety of monkey species since they were constructed in 1922. Yet for all their history, it was time to make way for something new, for contemporary animal habitats that were in keeping with all the innovations that had taken place throughout the Zoo. This would comprise the final phases of the Heart of the Zoo project, which had been started in 1981 by then-director Charles Bieler to transform some of the oldest parts of the Zoo. Construction began in 2002 to create first a new habitat for orangutans and siamangs—Absolutely Apes—and then an expansive, multi-level, multi-species habitat that would tell the stories of forests, their ecosystems, and the animals and plants that call them home—Monkey Trails and Forest Tales. While there was a note of nostalgia in seeing the bulldozers begin to take down the old Monkey Yard, it was an exciting time of planning and ideas to create a whole new Heart of the Zoo that would add further dimension to the Zoo of today.