INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Zoo recently broke ground on the International Orangutan Center.
Gov. Mitch Daniels and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard were among the more than 200 distinguished guests who joined Indianapolis Zoo Board of Trustees Chairman Alan Cohen for the ceremony.
Announced during the ceremony was the most recent gift to the project - a $1.5 million grant from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust. The $21.5 million International Orangutan Center is the centerpiece of the zoo's $30 million campaign for conservation and community: Saving the Orangutans, and is scheduled to open in May 2014. This gift brings the campaign's total to nearly $25 million.
"The International Orangutan Center will be the most important zoo exhibit in the world and a global center of excellence, setting a new standard for zoos in how they design animal habitats," Indianapolis Zoo President and CEO Michael Crowther said in a press release. "It is our hope that this new center will be the catalyst for the change that can save these amazing animals from extinction in our lifetime."
The International Orangutan Center will include several unique elements, but the most visible will be the 150-foot Beacon of Hope extending upward from the center of the exhibit. The Beacon of Hope, a gift of the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, will be illuminated by lights the orangutans turn on themselves, symbolizing the hope that still exists for this endangered species.
"The International Orangutan Center will provide our orangutans with a wonderful new home while giving zoo visitors a unique perspective into the nature and capabilities of these amazing animals," Cohen said. "In addition to being good for the orangutans, the center is good for our state and is expected to have an annual impact of $132 million on Indiana's economy."
A complete overview of the International Orangutan Center is available online at IndianapolisZooFuture.com. The overall campaign includes Flights of Fancy: A Brilliance of Birds presented by Citizens Energy Group and the renovation of the zoo's Entry Plaza, as well as last year's opening of Tiger Forest.