Chester Zoo
Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo in northern England has built a safe home for what are some of the world’s most endangered primates, re-creating their habitats found in Southeast Asia.

Chester Zoo
Chester Zoo

Visitors to the zoo were able to take their first look this weekend at the new state-of-the-art playground at the zoo, built as part of the 42-million-U.S.-dollar Islands Project, Britain’s biggest ever zoological development.

The new occupants of the playground, Sumatran orangutans, Tripa, Tuti, Indah, Emma, Subis, Puluh and Siska, and a family of three silvery gibbons, including a 12-day-old newborn, have been joined in the Islands by other newcomers including green crested lizards, mountain horned dragons and endangered spiny hill turtles, species also from Southeast Asia.

Conservation experts estimate that fewer than 6,500 Sumatran orangutans and less than 4,500 silvery gibbons are left in the wild.

Chester Zoo hopes the new play area will throw a major spotlight on issues such as habitat destruction, a threat which is pushing both species to the very edge of extinction.

The playground has been designed by the zoo’s primate keepers, conservationists and specialist architects from Germany.

Tim Rowlands, curator of mammals at the zoo, said: “Without vital conservation efforts, Sumatran orangutans and silvery gibbons could both become extinct in the near future.”

“We just hope that this fantastic new environment at the zoo will encourage visitors to learn more about these stunning species and the long-term conservation efforts we’re involved with to try and protect them for the future,” said Rowlands.

The zoo is working with a number of conservation partners to restore and protect habitats across Sumatra and Borneo and in Britain where zookeepers are encouraging businesses to source palm oil products from sustainable retailers in their supply chain.

Rowlands said habitat destruction, to make way for palm oil plantations is impacting on animals like orangutans and gibbons.

“The work we’re doing is helping to shape a brighter future for them, and a range of threatened species in the region of Southeast Asia,” said Rowlands.

“We want to showcase just how much careful work goes into the conservation of such a charismatic species and, by doing so, hope we’ll inspire a new generation of people to really care about wildlife, especially those species that are hanging on to survival by a thread,” said Rowlands.

The new exhibit includes breeding facilities and a host of climbing poles reaching heights of 15 meters using ropes, rockwork, trees, webbing and sway poles — carbon fiber poles that “sway” similarly to trees when orangutans move from one to another above the forest canopy when foraging for food.

Chester Zoo, run by a charity, the North of England Zoological Society, receives no government funding. Established for over 80 years, it is the most-visited wildlife attraction in Britain with more than 1.4 million visitors a year, and has been described by Forbes as one of the best 15 zoos in the world. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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