Beginning in April, zoo visitors will be able to see the orangutans year-round in a habitat that's greener and six times larger because of a half-million-dollar gift from Tempe-based Orangutan Homes Services, a contractor that provides heating, air-conditioning, plumbing and home security.
Orangutans at the Phoenix Zoo
"This gift is huge for us," said Bert Castro, the zoo's CEO and president. "Our old facility was dilapidated and didn't meet the standards we're striving for in terms of building a world-class park."
The zoo's family of four Bornean orangutans includes Duchess, who, at age 50, is among the oldest such animals in captivity.
She is grandmother to 5-year-old Kasih, the daughter of Michael and Bess.
They have lived in an old concrete bunker and hid during cold and hot weather, so visitors often missed them.
The new half-acre home will have an enrichment tree and sway pole to give the orangutans the natural experience of being up in the air. Further enhancing the grounds will be a water feature, heating and air-conditioning, private bedrooms, play structures for climbing and swinging, and grass.
"It will be the first time these orangutans have ever stepped on grass," Castro said. "This will be an opportunity to have a natural place and a lot of room to run around and have a great time."
The gift is part cash and part materials and manpower over five years.
The exhibit of orangutans - an intelligent, endangered species - is due to open in April.
Next month, the zoo will break ground on an 11,000-square-foot education center and event facility, for which Orangutan Home Services will provide the air-conditioning and heating.
"We're grateful for their dedication to the zoo, along with their dedication to conserving the orangutan," Castro said. "That type of philanthropic support is essential."
Orangutan Home Services was founded in 1993 as American Home Maintenance, a name that inspired copycats.
More than a year ago, co-owners Ron Schuman and Jordy Tessler changed the name to raise their profile, and hits to their new website have soared seven times over what they were.
The idea for the new name started with the orange color used by Home Depot, with whom Orangutan does a lot of work.
"A lot of people who see our trucks think we're a zookeeper," Tessler said.
"It's just a magical thing that we (the company and zoo) are able to work together. The timing worked out so well for both of us."
Story Credit here