Philadelphia Zoo Animal’s Given More Freedom

Philadelphia Zoo Animal’s Given More Freedom

In the first of its kind, Philadelphia Zoo has launched a network of trails to enable its residents to live far more freely than ever thought in captivity.

Red Capped Mangebey, Philadelphia Zoo, Trail, News, Animal Welfare, Animals

A Red Capped Mangebey exploring Philadelphia Zoo by the new trails

Unveiled on Thursday, the trails allow animals from lemurs to bears, apes to cats explore new realms of the zoo, making their own choices and improving their experiences.

Hoping to blur the lines between visitor and resident, while improving physical fitness, metal stimulation and overall happiness of the animals, this new venture even has scientific backing.

Philadelphia Zoo’s chief operating officer Andrew Baker explains that the goal is for animals to “have a much more varied experience in their lives and truly travel, truly explore, in a way that creates all sorts of behavioural opportunities.”

Other zoos have introduced similar, but notably smaller projects, the National Zoo’s “O-line” Orang-utan Transport System for instance. But Philadelphia’s trails are on a much larger scale, planning to cover 1.5 miles of network with many different species using them.

A final trail is planned for 2015 to house the larger animals such as hippos and rhinos, while the current 200-foot orang-utan trail allows the fire-hued critters to watch visitors eating at the café, and vice-versa. And a monkey lookout will exactly mirror a children’s climbing frame structure, allowing for exact comparisons and a parallel play opportunity.

By studying the animals’ behaviour and faecal samples, zoo keepers will be able to determine whether health and happiness have improved since the introduction of the trails.

“These trails are much more than just a way to get from here to there, the walk itself is the pleasure,” explains Jon Coe, who is the mastermind behind the design. “Giving animals choices is the next frontier.”

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