Philly Zoo monkeys walk on the wild side

2012-08-23 20:48
Visitors to the Philadelphia Zoo look at a red-capped mangabey sitting in a protected path that allows animals from similar habitats to travel among the exhibits. (Matt Rourke, AP)

Visitors to the Philadelphia Zoo look at a red-capped mangabey sitting in a protected path that allows animals from similar habitats to travel among the exhibits. (Matt Rourke, AP)

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Philadelphia - The Philadelphia Zoo is letting some animals take a walk on the wild side - sort of.

Species like monkeys, lemurs and orangutans can now use a set of enclosed trails on the 17ha zoo to leave the confines of their exhibits and travel throughout the property.

The network of protected pathways is designed to enrich the animals' lives by giving them the ability to explore and see and smell new things. It's also aimed at enhancing the visitor experience, allowing zoo-goers to see creatures in unexpected places - such as in the trees.

"We believe that the opportunity to travel, to explore, to choose to go toward things that are interesting, move away from things, really control their own experience... is going to be incredibly enriching for the animals in our care," said Andrew Baker, the zoo's chief operating officer.

Last week, the zoo opened the Great Ape Trail, which allows orangutans to roam along an overhead walkway through a tree grove. Small monkeys and lemurs have used the Treetop Trail for about a year, scampering through mesh enclosures suspended about 3m to 5m off the ground.

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