Swinging New Digs for Orangutans, Siamangs—and Employees!
The changing face of the San Diego Zoo in 1982 was apparent when phase I of Heart of the Zoo, the Whittier Southeast Asian exhibits, opened that summer. The new, spacious orangutan homes were the centerpiece, with separate enclosures for the Zoo’s Bornean and Sumatran orangutan troops. Set on a hillside above Fern Canyon, the backdrop was the lush greenery rather than a wall, and a stream ran through a moat surrounding the exhibits. Large, treelike structures inside the enclosures gave the orangutans places to climb, swing, and perch, with places for the keepers to attach a variety of enrichment items for the apes to explore, as well. On either side of the path leading to the orangutan viewing areas, visitors encountered island exhibits for siamangs, with impressive climbing structures where the agile primates could swing, leap, and play. Also part of the new area was a specially designed, climate-controlled area for douc langurs and Francois langurs, as well as a new aviary showcasing birds of the Southeast Asian rain forests.
Also constructed in 1982 was the new Warner Administration Building (below), a much-needed, centralized location of office and meeting spaces for the Zoo’s growing staff, built next to the Terrace Lagoon with funds donated by Tom and Suzanne Warner.