ST. LOUIS — The Saint Louis Zoo announced the grand opening of its $13-million primate playground, with its eight new outdoor homes for lemurs, tamarins, colobus monkeys and chimps of all varieties.
The Michael and Quirsis Riney Primate Canopy Trails will debut Monday, July 12, the Zoo revealed Thursday.
Primate Canopy Trails, which has been under construction since late 2019, is a 35,000-square-foot outdoor expansion connected to the Primate House.
The first-of-its-kind primate habitat will allow guests to explore the forest canopy next to the animals, learning through play and exploration about conservation challenges primates are facing in the wild, the Zoo explained.
“This is an amazing and unique exhibit that will help us connect people to animals like never before,” said Jeffrey P. Bonner, Ph.D., Dana Brown President and CEO of the Zoo.
Visitors to the exhibit will take a journey from the forest floor, through a see-through tunnel and up into the treetops on an elevated boardwalk to see monkeys and lemurs in their enriching and engaging state-of-the-art homes and play areas.
Expansive climbing structures take guests through the animals’ habitats, simulating the life of a primate in the tree canopy of a forest.
Overhead mesh “sky trail” tunnels allow animals to explore different habitats at different times, boosting the stimulation in their daily lives.
"One thing all our primates have in common is their love of the canopies and habitats situated high in the trees," said Heidi Hellmuth, Curator of Primates at the Zoo. "However, many primates worldwide are threatened with extinction and have declining populations, mostly due to extensive habitat loss, including forests."
Some of the animals in the exhibit are endangered and critically endangered species.
Many of the primates living at the Primate House have never had access to the outdoors until now. The new exhibit also includes a private, climate-controlled Primate Care Center, where the animal care team can provide exceptional care.
The exhibit was made possible thanks to a leadership gift from Michael and Quirsis Riney.
“We are deeply appreciative of the Rineys’ charitable support, which will greatly impact both the animals in our care and the experiences of our guests,” Bonner said.
Primate Canopy Trails opens to the public at 10 a.m. Monday, July 12. Admission to the exhibit is free. For more information, visit stlzoo.org/PrimateCanopyTrails.