Opening the $3.6million exhibit today, Environment Minister Albert Jacob said the boardwalk would provide people with a greater appreciation of the zoo’s colony of 12 Sumatran orangutans.
“The boardwalk takes people up to get a better look at these fascinating creatures, a major change from the previous exhibit which left visitors at ground level,” Mr Jacob said.
“With school holidays starting this week, it is the ideal time for families to rediscover the zoo and experience this amazing new boardwalk.”
The exhibit includes a soundscape reflecting the sounds of the orangutans’ natural environment and more than 2,000 new plants to help create a rainforest atmosphere.
The boardwalk has a Jungle School theme, reflecting Perth Zoo’s work to prepare suitable zoo-born orangutans for release into a jungle sanctuary in Sumatra, Indonesia.
“There are five ‘lessons for life in the wild’ that an orangutan must learn before it can be released and the exhibit takes you on a journey through the orangutan classroom, via informative signs and audio,” the Minister said.
“Orangutans are critically endangered in the wild and Perth Zoo plays an important role in the conservation of Sumatran orangutans. The zoo is internationally recognised for its successful breeding program and its historic release into the wild of two zoo-born orangutans.
“The boardwalk design also allows four extra vertical poles to be linked to the main towers with climbing ropes. This increased space will encourage the orangutans to spend more time up high which is better for their health and strength.”
With habitat destruction a major threat to orangutan survival, Mr Jacob said the boardwalk was built using renewable and recycled materials, including reconstituted decking created from recycled milk and other plastic containers mixed with sawdust from plantation-grown pine.
The boardwalk is 125m long, 2.1m at the highest point and covers 460sqm
The five ‘lessons for life in the wild’ are: stay in the trees; socialise with other orangutans; find food and water; know your neighbourhood; and, make a nest.