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Category — Exhibits

New Family Fun at Jungle Trails

Have you been to Jungle Trails lately?  If not, make plans to visit this exhibit on your next Zoo trip! We have recently installed some new family-oriented interactive elements that are sure to add more fun, laughter and learning to your day. Find out what it would be like if your family lived in the forest as you take on group challenges that our non-human primate relatives face every day.

Begin by working together like others primates do to explore their surroundings. As a family, seek out hidden plant and animal sculptures throughout the trail.

Look! I found the rock gecko.

Look! I found the rock gecko.

Next, try your hand at swinging like a gibbon. A double set of “gibbon bars” at different heights invite children and adults to swing from one end to the other. Who can swing the fastest in your family? Can you get your whole troop across without touching the ground? Listen closely and you may be able to hear the gibbons cheering you on along the way!

Swing like gibbon! Woop woop, you can do it!

Swing like gibbon! Woop woop, you can do it!

Orangutans create a mental map to remember where to find ripening fruit. If you were an orangutan, could you remember where to find the right fruit? At the outdoor orangutan exhibit, find out which of your family members has the best memory by playing a fruit matching memory game.

I found a match!

I found a match!

Now, get ready to balance like a lemur. Can you walk across a rope without falling off? Use the hanging ropes to help you balance.  Have a race – kids versus grown-ups! Who can make it across first? Can your whole group make it across without falling off?

Balancing like a lemur isn't as easy as it sounds!

Balancing like a lemur isn’t as easy as it sounds!

We primates have opposable thumbs that help us hold and use things with our hands. If you didn’t have opposable thumbs, how would you tie your shoes? Find out just how hard it is to tie your shoes (or Velcro them for young ones) without using your thumbs at this next interactive. We have three different-sized shoes for all ages to try at the same time and see who can do it first.

Thumbs Up for Thumbs

Thumbs Up for Thumbs

Bonobos communicate with each other by drumming a group rhythm on the buttress roots of trees. Create your own troop rhythm on the large hollow buttress root near the outdoor bonobo exhibit. Take turns banging out a rhythm and mimicking what you hear.

Bang out a rhythm here.

Bang out a rhythm here.

Now it’s time to put all the brains of your troop together to solve the “Big Brains at Work” maze outside the Africa building.  Primates are very smart and working together is essential for survival. Work together with your troop to push a stone through the maze with sticks.

It takes teamwork to solve this puzzle.

It takes teamwork to solve this puzzle.

We’ve even created new interactive signage using iPads at the indoor orangutan, gibbon and bonobo exhibits. Learn the names and personalities of the animals. Watch videos of our keepers hard at work to keep the animals happy and healthy. Learn what you can do to help save these endangered primates. Build your own Super Primate through an interactive game. The choice is up to you!

Learning about bonobos on the iPad.

Learning about bonobos on the iPad.

By the time you reach the end of the trail, your family of primates will know what it’s like to be a primate living in the forest. So come  swing, balance and discover with your troop at Jungle Trails today!


The Jungle Trails project was made possible with funding from a Museums for America grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to re-interpret the exhibit with a focus on family learning through a two-year process of research, development and design, and prototyping and evaluation.

July 22, 2013   1 Comment

Elephant Name Game

Guest blogger, Interpretive Media Intern, Crissi Lanier:

When visiting the Zoo, one of the most popular animals, and certainly one of the most recognizable, is the elephant. I always know when I’m close since I can see and hear them, and sometimes even smell them.

If you’re like me, you’ve always wondered which elephant is which.  A friend that graduated from the Zoo Academy always challenged me to correctly name each elephant. Since I was always wrong, she gave me a few clues to help me tell the difference.

The easiest elephant to pick out is Sabu. He’s the only male (bull) elephant and has long white tusks. Sabu hangs out by himself in the side yard except when he and Jati, the youngest female, are paired for breeding.
Sabu-Crissi Lanier

Sabu (Photo: Crissi Lanier)

Female elephants live together in a social herd and you will find our three ladies together in the large yard off the main Zoo path. They are Jati, Schottzie and Mai Thai.

Elephant girls-Photo:Crissi Lanier

Can you tell which is which? (Photo: Crissi Lanier)

Jati is the easiest of the females to identify with the reddish hair on top of her head. She also is the smallest of the elephants. Occasionally, she may be found with Sabu as they are the Zoo’s breeding pair.

Jati (Photo: Crissi Lanier)

Schottzie is the largest of the females, weighing nearly 10,000 pounds! She is also the tallest. Schottzie has the most freckling and lighter coloring, especially on her trunk, ears and the front of her body.

Schottzie (Photo: Crissi Lanier)

Mai Thai is about 9,000 pounds and is the middle-sized elephant. She is mostly brown-grey with small sections of lighter coloring and freckles around her eyes, the edges of her ears and on her trunk. If you look closely, you can see a hole in her left ear. She is also missing the hairy tip of her tail.
Mai Thai-Crissi Lanier

Mai Thai (Photo: Crissi Lanier)

Next time you come to the Zoo, make sure you stop by to say hello to the elephants and challenge your friends and family to pick out which elephant is which. Now YOU know the inside tips!


July 10, 2013   5 Comments

Training Update


Wilhelmina, Rinaldo, and their baby Bobbie continue to impress people with their movement and jumps.  This trio is by far the leader of cuteness in our zoo!  Their keepers, Matt and Stephanie and myself continue to work with them Fri, Sat and Sun at 2:30, allowing our guests an up close and personal look at this incredible species.  The trio will go outside when it gets a little warmer!

Training sifaka in Jungle Trails

Training sifaka in Jungle Trails

Polar Bear

Berit, the female polar bear that we trained to accept injections, is now learning to present other areas of her body and to lay down.  She has been such a wonderful animal to work with.  She is so responsive and it’s really neat to watch her thought process as she works out each problem and tries so hard to please. Watching her keepers work with her so closely and seeing their relationship with her grow in such a positive direction has been especially fulfilling.

We are still waiting (and waiting and waiting) to find out if she is pregnant or not.  We should know in the next week or two.  Lets all keep our fingers crossed!!! [Read more →]

April 4, 2013   1 Comment