Saint Louis Zoo Plans Primate Canopy Trails, a Huge Outdoor Expansion of the Primate House

The Saint Louis Zoo has unveiled plans for the creation of Primate Canopy Trails, a 35,000-square-foot outdoor expansion of the Primate House. Primate Canopy Trails will consist of eight new outdoor homes for primates - lemurs, Old World monkeys and New World monkeys – adjacent to the Primate House. 

New overhead mesh tunnels connected to the Primate House will lead to tall existing sycamore trees and other outdoor habitats. These "sky trails" will have a flexible design that allows animals to explore different habitats at different times, boosting the stimulation in their lives. Zoo visitors also will find different primate species in new places each time they visit, creating fresh experiences for animals and humans alike.

"Being outside is critical for primates' well-being, and this new habitat is a demonstration of the Zoo's commitment to providing quality animal care," said Heidi Hellmuth, Curator of Primates at the Zoo.

At the new Primate Canopy Trails, on any given day, a group of primates could be in a wide variety of habitats. The Zoo estimates that there could be as many as 70 different habitat combinations for the various groups of primates to enjoy Primate Canopy Trails. 

"Most importantly, Primate Canopy Trails allows us to improve animal care, health and well-being by providing access to enriching outdoor habitats, sunlight and fresh air," said Jeffrey P. Bonner, Ph.D., President and CEO of the Saint Louis Zoo. "It also allows visitors to experience primates like never before."

Primate Canopy Trails features climbing structures that allow visitors to explore much like monkeys and lemurs move about their forest homes. While exploring and playing, visitors learn about the importance of preserving the world's forests. Visitors also will be able to experience primates at treetop canopy levels, strolling by the outdoor habitat on an elevated boardwalk. At one point, visitors can travel through a primate habitat within a clear acrylic tunnel.

"One thing all our primates have in common is their love of the canopies and habitats situated high in the trees," said Hellmuth. "However, many primates worldwide are threatened with extinction and have declining populations, mostly due to extensive habitat loss, including forests."

The $11.5 million outdoor expansion will open in 2021. Construction on Primate Canopy Trails is scheduled to begin by late 2019. Learn more at stlzoo.org/primatecanopytrails.

Artist's renderings of Primate Canopy Trails courtesy of the Saint Louis Zoo.

 

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