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Category — Primates

Re-interpreting Jungle Trails to Engage Families

Exciting news! We recently received a Museums for America grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to re-interpret our Jungle Trails exhibit with a focus on family learning.

A recipient of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ (AZA) prestigious exhibit award in 1994, the current Jungle Trails exhibit takes visitors on a journey through the rainforests of Asia and Africa to witness just a sampling of the amazing wildlife that lives there with a focus on primates. The Jungle Trails exhibit appeals to visitors’ emotions and motivations through an innate connection we all have with our closest animal relatives, the primates.

Innovative for its time, the immersive Jungle Trails exhibit sets the rainforest stage with trails that wind through nearly two acres of jungle-type landscape, featuring detailed sculptures and murals, a wild soundtrack, and a variety of exotic plants and animals. Endangered primates such as orangutans, gibbons, and bonobos are highlights of the trail and can be viewed from both indoor and outdoor areas. We are one of less than a dozen zoos worldwide that exhibit and breed bonobos in participation with the Bonobo Species Survival Plan (SSP) managed by the AZA. We also participate in SSPs for orangutans and gibbons.

Through this project, we will plan, develop and design, implement, evaluate, and share fresh interpretive methods to encourage families to learn about the world by discussing new experiences, asking questions, and sharing memories. The project is designed to strengthen our ability to engage our primary audience—families—in new and deeper ways of learning about our non-human primate relatives.

The project will play out over the next two years as we research best practices, test prototypes, develop and design the final interpretive elements, and evaluate their effectiveness. Right now we are delving into the research on family learning and the principles behind creating family-friendly exhibits.

Check back for updates as the Jungle Trails project progresses!


November 2, 2011   5 Comments

Orangutan-friendly Palm Oil

Palm oil. It’s in your processed foods, soaps, cosmetics, and more.  The use of palm oil, harvested from the fruit of the oil palm plant, has risen sharply over the past five years. Oil palm plantations are spreading across Indonesia, where 85% of the world’s supply of its preferred vegetable oil is produced, to the detriment of its rainforests and the orangutans that live there.

Palm oil plantation

Palm oil plantation

In 2004, the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was formed to promote sustainable methods of producing palm oil that do not involve clear cutting rainforests. RSPO initiated a program in 2008 to certify sustainable palm oil producers. Despite a slow start, markets show that manufacturing companies are responding as a record amount of palm oil was purchased from sustainable producers in March 2010.

Oil palms

Oil palms

With about 50% of our everyday products containing palm oil, it’s nearly impossible to cut it out of our lives entirely. There is also no easy way to know whether a certain product contains sustainably harvested palm oil just yet. We can, however, voice our concerns and support companies that pledge to use sustainable palm oil in their products, including Procter & Gamble and Nestlé, which have committed to purchasing 100% sustainable palm oil by 2015.

Orangutan (Photo: Connie Lemperle)

Orangutan (Photo: Connie Lemperle)

The next time you go shopping, use your purchasing power to help protect orangutans. For more information, including a downloadable list of orangutan-friendly Halloween candy, check out the palm oil web page put together by our friends at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

October 6, 2011   2 Comments