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Hagenbeck Zoo

Orangutan House

Tobias Knauf, Hagenbeck Zoo (author)
Monika Lange (translation for ZooLex)
Monika Fiby (editor for ZooLex)
Published 2005-12-16
deutsch , español

 

UP LOCATION:

Lokstedter Grenzstr. 2, D-22527 Hamburg-Stellingen, Germany
Phone: 0049-40-5400010
Fax: 54 000 132
URL: http://www.hagenbeck.de


UP KEY WORDS:

retractable roof; ape; behavioural enrichment; environmental enrichment; mixed-species


UP ANIMALS:

Family:Species:Common Name:Capacity:
MustelidaeAmblonyx cinereaSmall-clawed Otter1.1 with offspring
PongidaePongo abeliiSumatran Orangutan1.12 with offspring


UP DESCRIPTION:

The new Orangutan House employs an innovative retractable roof over an outdoor exhibit. It replaces the old orangutan building from the 1960’s. As dwellers of shady rainforests, orangutans do not like direct sun light; the northern German climate, on the other hand, is too cold for them. This problem is solved by providing the animals with the optimal year-round use of the complete area, and by abandoning the division between indoor and outdoor areas. This also reduced the cost as well as the required space.

The new Orangutan House consists of two main components: the base structure and the transparent dome. The circular base houses utility rooms, the staff area, the food-prep kitchen, and the animal holding rooms. It takes seven minutes to open or close the motorized dome. This allows the indoor exhibit to be easily transformed into an outdoor space in warm weather and the greatest possible amount of space is always accessible for the animals. The dome is constructed of a filigree steel structure that is covered with multi-layered, air-filled membrane pillows. The membrane pillows display very good temperature insulation, low weight, good room acoustics, as well as a high level of self-cleaning. They are also UV-transparent and therefore support plant growth inside the dome.

Again, we were able to follow with this exhibit the Hagenbeck principle of displaying animals in naturalistic panoramas without visible barriers. The dome height of 16m (52 f) made it possible to create an animal area that utilizes all three dimensions. Trees and rock formations in the exhibit allow the inhabitants make use of this space, as well as have wide vistas beyond the exhibit. On the other side, this also enables the visitors to see the animals from far away. Inside of the House, humans and apes encounter each other close up.

In order to vitalize and diversify the exhibit, dwarf otters were introduced. The otters inhabit the water moat next to the visitors. The two species use the exhibit in an optimal way.
 

UP SIZE:

The size of the footprint is approximately 1000m2 (10000 sqf). The dome has a diameter of 32 m (52.5 f) and is 16 m high. 5280 m3 (186400 cbf) of space are accessible to the animals.

The usable space for the orangutans is 391 m² on-exhibit, 25 m² off-exhibit and 50 m² sleeping quarters. The otters can use the water moat (102 m², 3.5 m wide and 2.5 m deep), their island (9 m²) and part of the orangutan exhibit, all together 432 m² . There are also sleeping quarters of 5 m².

Space allocation in square meters:

useindoorsoutdoors     total exhibit    
accessible     total     accessible     total    
animals500
visitors200
others300
total1,000

 

UP COSTS:

EUR 4,600,000 including n/a % for design.

The city of Hamburg supported the construction of the exhibit. The zoo is responsible for the cost of maintenance.
 

UP OPENING DATE:

27 May 2004
 

UP DESIGN:

Beginning: December 2001

  • Concept: Hagenbeck Zoo/Dr. Claus Hagenbeck, Hamburg
  • Concept: Peter Plomin BDLA, Ahrensburg
  • Furnishing: Hagenbeck Zoo/Dr. Stephan Hering-Hagenbeck, Hamburg
  • Architecture: PSP-Architekten Ingenieure, Hamburg
  • structural engineers: Wetzel & von Seht, Hamburg
  • engineers: LMT Ingenieur und Planungs GmbH, Achim
  • landscape architect: Peter Plomin BDLA, Hamburg

UP CONSTRUCTION:

Beginning: September 2003

  • dome: Skyspan (Europe) GmbH, Rimsting
  • painting: ADO & C. S.r.l., Verona, Italien

UP LOCAL CONDITIONS:

walter.gif This is a climatic diagram for the closest weather station.

 

UP PLANTS:

The goal of the exhibit plantings was the emulation of the tropical rainforest of Sumatra, the home of orangutans. We wanted to provide the animals with an optimal range of environmental and behavioral enrichment. To support this goal, the animal areas, as well as the visitor areas were lushly planted to fill the dome in the coming years with greenery. The plants are neither within reach of animals nor visitors. The ETFE-foil used for the dome lets pass UV-light and allows plant growth in the dome.

The plant list specifies the Latin names of the plants used for this exhibit.


UP FEATURES DEDICATED TO ANIMALS:

To be able to offer our animals species-appropriate living conditions, we traveled to observe orangutans in Borneo. The experiences and impressions we gained in Borneo were incorporated into the configuration of the exhibit.

The enclosure encompasses three areas: To the left lies a hill with several terraces and caves for the animals. It was constructed of natural rock and shotcrete. From the highest point of the hill, a creek cascades down forming several waterfalls that meet at the large moat which borders the exhibit. The central part of the enclosure has a flat surface which is covered with natural substrate that is partly planted with grass. On the right side, another rock formation rises containing more caves. Several living trees populate the entire exhibit.

Numerous climbing structures are distributed throughout the exhibit, such as climbing trees, swing poles, hammocks, ropes, as well as a bungee rope stretched between two trees. An artificial enrichment tree that hides nuts and raisins provides further entertainment. The animals are able to continually discover something new, to play with each other, or to choose their individual resting place. The different utilization of static and mobile climbing elements fosters the animals’ intellect. For the otters, we created an island in the moat, and they have access to the caves. Interactions between the two species are observed frequently.
 

UP FEATURES DEDICATED TO KEEPERS:

Behind the scenes, lies a room with sleeping boxes for the orangutans. The boxes are arranged in two sections along the wall and can be closed off from each other. This room is only accessible through a safety vestibule.

The holding area for the otters also consists of connected boxes as well as additional breeding boxes.

The keeper room doubles as food-prep kitchen and holds video equipment to monitor the enclosures. Glass windows allow viewing of the orangutan sleeping boxes.
 

UP FEATURES DEDICATED TO VISITORS:

The new Orangutan House emphasizes a strong "adventure"-character: The approach to the building prepares the visitors for the experience inside. When the dome roof is retracted, the visitors can already spot the apes from afar climbing in the trees. To reach the animals, the visitors have to cross a "rickety" hanging bridge. A paved road is provided as an alternative. Passing a sun terrace which invites a rest, the visitors enter the building through an Indonesian-themed house. Inside, they are separated from the animals only by moats, water, and artificial rocks. At the restaurant, which can be used for evening events, apes and humans can watch each other while eating. From a raised platform, the visitors can observe the animals in their natural tree habitat and get an impression of their way of life. After leaving the inside of the building and climbing a few stairs, the visitors reach a second terrace. The terrace offers an overview of the whole enclosure when the dome is opened. All visitor areas inside the building including the restrooms are fully accessible.
 

UP INTERPRETATION:

Signage inside the building displays general information about the animals. The backrest of one of the benches shows the length of the arms of the orangutans. On the ground inside the building, foot tracks of humans and orangutans are shown side by side to encourage comparison and to refer to our close relationship. The artificial trees of the exhibit emulate the huge boles of the rain forest. Their burnt stumps tell the story of habitat destruction by slash-and-burn farming in the homeland of the orangutans, Borneo and Sumatra. In Borneo alone, ca 3-4 million ha of tropical primary forest are burnt annually robbing the orangutans of their habitat. By buying tropical wood products, all of us are contributing to this seemingly unstoppable process.

Informational signs introduce the "Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation" (BOS), which works for the preservation of this endangered species in its natural range. The signs also point out the support through the zoo.
 

UP MANAGEMENT:

The orangutans reside in the exhibit throughout the day and shift at night to their sleeping boxes behind the scenes. Some individuals, though, live permanently in the exhibit and build sleeping nests in the tree canopy. By opening shifting doors, the sleeping boxes form a continuous loop accessible to the animals at daytime as a retreat from the public. Additionally, individual animals can be separated from the group in the holding area with access to non-public outdoor enclosures. The otters are always free to enter the exhibit. The otter island, which is inaccessible for the apes, serves as their retreat.

Two to three scatter feedings take place daily. In the climbing trees, we arrange nectar-filled bottles in different heights. The animals try to garner the tasty content of the bottles with self-made tools. For further activity opportunities, up-to-10m-high (33 f) climbing trees have been placed specifically to form a loop. Hemp ropes form flexible connections between the individual static climbing structures. These ropes can be rearranged and varied with relatively low effort by the keepers. A bungee rope connects two climbing trees and offers another challenge for the apes. A special activity loop is formed by swing poles. It was observed in nature that the apes use strong bamboo poles as play structures. The animals swing and rock from one pole to the next. By providing the swing poles in the new exhibit, the animals are given the opportunity to experience this activity too. The creek offers further enrichment. An artificial waterfall, which is activated by the keepers in irregular intervals, allows the animals to "shower". Apes do not bath as a rule because they cannot swim; a "shower" on the other hand is often readily accepted. Orangutans like to build sleeping nests out of fresh leaves. These are offered daily to them at changing locations in the exhibit. An artificial tree about 12 m (40f) high figures not only as a climbing opportunity for the apes, it also hides a singular "inner life". Integrated are three enrichment devices which can be used by several animals at the same time. Some of the devices challenge especially the animal’s dexterity and the apes can only solve them by using simple, self-made tools. Automated feeders can be programmed to ensure variation and novelty.
 

UP RESEARCH:

The zoo works in close collaboration with the University of Hamburg to carry out behavioral studies of social structures inside the ape group, mother-child relations, mixed-species dynamics, and reactions to the enrichment opportunities. For years, an information transfer has taken place between the zoo and Dr. Willy Smits, the head of the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, which is located on the Indonesian part of Borneo (www.bosf-deutschland.de).
 

UP CONSERVATION:

Tierpark Hagenbeck has for years taken part in the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP), and breeds the highly endangered orangutans successfully in cooperation with other zoological gardens. In the new enclosure, four apes were already born in the first year after opening.

Tierpark Hagenbeck also supports the Borneo Orang-Utan Survival Foundation (BOS), the largest worldwide organization for the protection of orangutans in Indonesia (www.bosf-deutschland.de). The organization confiscates illegally kept orangutans, rehabilitates them in specially formed centers, and reintroduces them to the wild in protected rain forest areas on Borneo.
 

UP LOCAL RESOURCES:

Tierpark Hagenbeck sees it as its mission as a "Hamburg Partner of the Environment" to practice sustainability, for example by the installation of waterless urinals. No tropical wood was used in the construction and equipment of the exhibit. Ecologically-sound maintenance is important to us. In summer, the temperature can be regulated by opening the dome. In winter, an automated heating system maintains even temperatures. The water moat is part of a closed system, where the water recirculates back through the creek. Grey water is used to fill the system when needed.

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Site Plan
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Orangutan (1)
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Exterior View (2)
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Cross-section (3)
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Ground plan (4)
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Hanging bridge (5)
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Entrance (6)
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Dome from outside (7)
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Dome from inside (8)
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Inside the dome (9)
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Orangutans' perspective (10)
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Raised platform and swing poles (11)
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View from raised platform (12)
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Enrichment tree (13)
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Enrichment tree (14)
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Enrichment tree in use (15)
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Hiding place for food (16)
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Ropes (17)
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Tree attachment (18)
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Brachiating in branches (19)
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Playing in the trees (20)
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Water moat (21)
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Offspring (22)
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Mix with dwarf otters (23)
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Orangutan (24)
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Sliding door to sleeping quaters (25)
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