More details: The Indianapolis Zoo’s major expansion project, complete with chimpanzees

On Friday, Urban Times posted news of a major new development at the Indianapolis Zoo – the creation of not only a new Welcome Center and Global Center for Species Survival (both opening this coming Memorial Day), but also the International Chimpanzee Complex (coming a year later). Following is what we’ve learned since then:

  • Zoo officials expect the International Chimpanzee Complex to become a centerpiece for the zoo. It will become the first element to greet visitors with its tall outdoor climbing structure to be visible from most of the zoo property.
  • An elevated path will allow the chimps access to other areas of the zoo. The path will stretch along the main zoo corridors, from a 3,100-square-foot space near the dolphin complex to the former athletic dog arena located south of the new kangaroo exhibit.
  • As many as 30 adult chimpanzees are expected to occupy the new exhibit. Several chimps have already been welcomed into the zoo family, but are not on exhibit, while other zoos have requested to relocate some of their chimps to Indianapolis.
  • Said Indianapolis Zoo CEO Rob Shumaker, “We want people to truly understand what it means to be a chimpanzee. “And out of that, inevitably, people will have greater respect and concern and admiration for these great apes. That will lead directly to a much greater concern for their conservation in the wild. That’s a very valuable lesson we learned from previous work here at the zoo, particularly with orangutans. We’ve applied all those good lessons toward design for chimpanzees.”
  • The new Welcome Center will provide space for visitors to immediately greet “animal ambassadors” including sloths, aardvarks, birds, snakes and young alligators.
  • The facility will also feature ticket windows and restrooms.
An aerial rendering of the zoo’s new entry realignment and Welcome Center.
  • The Global Center for Species Surivival – a $13 million component of the project – will house a team of local experts who will collaborate with others across the globe on efforts that help limit disruption to habitats that could lead to further extinction of animals and plants, zoo officials noted. “Our mission is very clear, in terms of our commitment to species diversity and global conservation,” Shumaker said. “We were doing a very good job prior to launching this campaign. But we realized, given the state of the natural world and the pressures that are being exerted on species’ survival around the world, we needed to do more, and we wanted to do more.”
  • The zoo expansion cuts into the parking lot, so the zoo will more actively use a 27-acre lot south of Washington Street acquired in 2019 from Ambrose Property Group.
  • As reported in the Dec. 2 posting, the zoo has entered the public phase of a $53 million fundraising campaign that will run for the next two years. That campaign has reached the 60-percent success level.

Rendering above: Sloths and other “animal ambassadors” will greet visitors in the new Welcome Center.