Van H. Gilbert Architect PC

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Primate Exhibit
Albuquerque Biological Park, New Mexico
1984

Boulders, vegetation, and a spring of gurgling water emptying into an idyllic pond transport the visitor to the wilds of Africa. The first step in providing a new exhibit and natural habitat for the Zoo’s gorillas and orangutans was to develop a master plan to address the long range plans for expanding the primate population. From the initial exhibit which housed both gorillas and orangutans in separate enclosures, the Primate Exhibit Complex now consists of three exhibit spaces, two for the Zoo’s gorilla population and one for the orangutans.

Oriented to the south to obtain maximum solar gain, the exhibits display the animals in a natural habitat. The winter sun provides the primates with enough heat that they can remain outdoors year round. The primates are always moved inside for the night. Overhangs in the artificial rock cliff backdrop prevent these intelligent animals from climbing out of the enclosure. The overhang and the unobtrusive dry moat serve as inconspicuous security barriers between the primates and the zoo visitor. Timber play structures, plants, and shade structures provide the primates relief from the summer sun and double as opportunities for stimulating behaviors. Back of the house enclosures and a complex passageway for moving the primates between indoors and outdoors are designed with security and safety features including overhead keeper circulation and reinforced steel doors.

Photo Courtesy: Albuquerque Biological Park