The orang-utans show off their new facility

The new area covers almost 1,000 m2 and has been designed to ensure the animals' maximum wellbeing

The orang-utans at Barcelona Zoo have been able to try out their new facility, which has been designed following criteria that ensure the animals' maximum wellbeing and the utmost flexibility in the use of space. It covers a total area of 915 m2 and has four main zones, two inside and two outside, which will allow the group of orang-utans to be observed throughout the year regardless of the weather. The cost of the facility was 1,231,603 euros.

The facility is completely naturalized, with a vegetation barrier that demarcates the area of the enclosure and recreates a natural riverbank, made with artificial stone and natural rocks. A main waterfall measuring four meters in height and a gentle cascade refresh the atmosphere. Enrichment elements have also been installed, such as tree trunks, ropes and wooden platforms that allow the orang-utans to recreate their natural behavior. Also, for the first time, thick iron rods have been used to allow them to balance in a similar way to how they would on tree branches, helping them move about the upper levels of the facility.

The four areas of  the facility are connected to each  other  by a  variety of  alternative accesses, allowing for better handling of the group by the keepers and favoring the option of housing two adult males if necessary.

The perimeter areas of the facility have also been refurbished, providing five semi-covered viewing points so that the public can observe the orang-utans. Similarly, a dense barrier of vegetation has been built, which acts as a space for immersion for visitors to the Zoo and that creates a route where various information points have been installed, which tell of the species and the dangers that may lead to their extinction in their natural habitat. The new area is sited in the old location and comprises the old mandrills' pit, which has been completely transformed after the mandrills were transferred to Lisbon Zoo.

A family of orang-utans

A family of seven orang-utans lives at the Zoo. The dominant male in the group is Karl, who is 18 years old and who arrived in Barcelona in 2005 from Dublin Zoo. On arrival, he paired with Locky, at 32 the oldest orang-utan at the Zoo, with whom he had two babies: Sari, born in 2008, and Balú, born in 2013.

At the same time, Karl also paired with Jawi, an 18-year-old female and daughter of Locky. With her, he increased the group by two more babies: Jingga, born in 2009, and Jadia, born in January of last year, who is the most recent arrival.

In danger of extinction

The orang-utans at Barcelona Zoo are of the Borneo species, endemic to this Southeast Asian island. The species is classed on the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a species in danger of extinction in their natural environment. There are now a few very small and widely dispersed populations on the island of Borneo, endangered by intense tree-felling, the burning of the jungle, poaching and illegal trafficking in babies.

Barcelona Zoo is a top-flight benchmark in the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme (EEP) of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, as there have been four births in the last six years, which bears out the reproductive success of the EEP with regard to the species and highlights the vitality of the group and the good work of the professionals who care for them.


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