LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Zoo unveiled plans Monday for a $5-million project that is expected to provide a healthier environment for its four orangutans than their current, cramped quarters.
At a news conference at the Griffith Park facility, zoo officials introduced models of the Red Ape Rain Forest, 6,000 square feet of open space with a recirculating stream and 20-foot artificial trees that the apes can use for climbing and swinging.
Their current home is only 500 square feet and contains mainly concrete mounds and a few wooden structures.
Funded by Proposition A, construction started in March and is expected to be completed in one year.
"The exhibit [that the orangutans] are in right now is not a great exhibit. It forces the animals to stay on the ground," said Manuel A. Mollinedo, zoo director.
"They are arboreal in the wild. They spend 98% of their time in the trees."
The design calls for the habitat's exterior to be surrounded entirely with bamboo and rubber trees.
Zoo visitors will watch the orangutans from a tree-level viewing deck through steel mesh enclosures.
There will also be large, ground level windows so people can be face to face with the orangutans.